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Hunter Hanson, 21, with grain merchandising businesses located in Devils Lake, N.D., on Nov. 21 received a cease-and-desist order from the North Dakota Public Service Commission. (Derek Fletcher / Forum News Service)

North Dakota PSC formally moves against grain trader

BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Public Service Commission on Dec. 19, formally passed a resolution to request courts to name them trustee in insolvency actions against grain trading companies operated by Hunter Brian Hanson of Leeds, N.D.

The PSC, at its regular meeting in Bismarck, voted to ask to be named trustee in the cases, involving Hanson, 21, a grain buyer based in Leeds, N.D.

As earlier indicated, the PSC will move against Hanson's Midwest Grain Trading in district court in Burleigh County, at Bismarck, because it is a roving grain buyer's license. Separately, Hanson is doing business as NoDak Grain with a warehouse license. That case will be petitioned in Pierce County at Rugby, N.D.

Randy Christmann, PSC commissioner and the commissioner particularly responsible for grain regulation, said he expects those actions to be filed in court at least by Dec. 20. Mitchell D. Armstrong of Smith Porsberg law firm in Bismarck, will do the legal work on a contract.

"Once we are appointed trustee, there will be a notification process about the timing of submitting claims," Christmann said after the PSC regular meeting where the action was taken.

If approved, the PSC staff as trustee will verify the facts of the paperwork and PSC will figure out how to liquidate any grain assets.

Christmann said the PSC has reports of $5 million to $6 million in troubled transactions, but figures will be "fluid" until claims are filed and proven.

Konrad Crockford, PSC director of compliance, said Pierce County was chosen because it is location of what is known as the Tunbridge facility, west of Rugby, a wood elevator that was once a farmer-owned cooperative. NoDak Grain also has a facility called Rohrville. The company has an office in Devils Lake, N.D., the county seat of Ramsey County.

The PSC issued a cease and desist order Nov. 21. Since then, Hanson should not have been buying, or even paying for grain he may have earlier made deals on, Christmann said.

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