(a) For the purposes of this section, the following definitions are applicable:

(1) “Subject person” means any director, officer, or employee or other natural person who participates in the management, direction, or control of an insurer.

(2) “Insurer” means any domestic insurer, and any insurer which is admitted to transact insurance in this state, provided that if a subject person of an insurer is not a resident of California, or operating out of a place of business within California, then the subject person shall be engaged in the direct management, direction, or control of the insurer in California in order to come within the provisions of this section.

(b) If, after notice and a hearing, the commissioner finds all of the following, the commissioner may issue an order removing a subject person from his or her office or employment with the insurer and prohibiting the subject person from further participating in any manner in the conduct of the business of the insurer, except with the prior consent of the commissioner:

(1) The subject person has engaged in repeated acts of misconduct with respect to the operations of an insurer which have resulted in substantial financial loss to an insurer.

(2) The misconduct which forms the pattern is fraudulent, or consists of willful acts or omissions involving personal dishonesty in the acceptance, custody, or payment of money or property on the part of the subject person which has endangered or is likely to endanger the solvency of the insurer.

(3) The pattern of misconduct is relevant in that it demonstrates unfitness to continue as a subject person.

(c) (1) If the commissioner gives written notice pursuant to subdivision (b) to a subject person, the commissioner may immediately issue an order suspending the subject person from his or her office or employment with the insurer and prohibiting the subject person from further participating in any manner in the conduct of the business of an insurer, except with the prior consent of the commissioner if the commissioner: (A) finds that failure to immediately issue such order threatens the financial solvency of the insurer or may otherwise cause immediate and irreparable financial injury to the insurer (B) serves that subject person and the insurer with written notice of the suspension order; and (C) finds that all of the necessary factors are present which would permit the commissioner, after notice and a hearing, to issue an order pursuant to subdivision (b) removing a subject person from his or her office or employment with the insurer and prohibiting the subject person from further participating in any manner in the conduct of the business of an insurer.

(2) Any suspension order issued pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subdivision shall be effective until the date the commissioner dismisses the charges contained in the notice served under subdivision (b) or paragraph (1) of this subdivision, the effective date of an order issued by the commissioner pursuant to subdivision (b), or a court issues a stay of the order pursuant to subdivision (d).

(d) Within 10 days after a subject person has been served with an order of suspension pursuant to subdivision (c), the person may apply to the superior court of the county in which the principal office of the insurer is located for a stay of the order pending completion of the proceedings pursuant to subdivision (b), and the court shall have jurisdiction to issue an order staying the suspension. Nothing in this subdivision shall be deemed to authorize the court to issue a stay order on an ex parte basis.

(e) (1) If the commissioner finds both of the following, he or she may immediately issue an order suspending a subject person from his or her office or employment with an insurer and prohibiting the subject person from further participating in any manner in the conduct of the business of an insurer, except with the prior consent of the commissioner: (A) the subject person has been charged in an indictment issued by a grand jury, or in an information, complaint, or similar pleading issued by a United States Attorney, district attorney, or other governmental official or agency authorized to prosecute crimes, with a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year and which involves as one of its necessary elements a fraudulent act or an act of dishonesty in the acceptance, custody, or payment of money or property; and (B) that a failure to immediately issue the order threatens the financial solvency of the insurer, or may otherwise cause immediate and irreparable financial injury to the insurer.

In the event the criminal proceedings are terminated other than by judgment of conviction, an order issued pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subdivision shall be deemed rescinded as if it had not been issued.

(2) If the commissioner finds both of the following, he or she may immediately issue an order removing a subject person from his or her office or employment with an insurer and prohibiting the subject person from further participating in any manner in the conduct of the business of the insurer, except with the prior consent of the commissioner: (A) the person has been convicted during the preceding five years of a crime that is punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year and that has as one of its necessary elements a fraudulent act or an act of dishonesty in the accepting, custody, or payment of money or property; and (B) that a failure to immediately issue the order threatens the financial solvency of the insurer, or may otherwise cause immediate and irreparable financial injury to the insurer.

(3) The fact that any subject person charged with a crime involving as one of its necessary elements a fraudulent act or any act of dishonesty in the acceptance, custody, or payment of money or property is not convicted of that crime shall not preclude the commissioner from issuing an order regarding the subject person pursuant to other provisions of this code.

(f) (1) Within 30 days after an order is issued pursuant to subdivision (c) or (e), the person to whom the order is issued may choose to do either of the following: (A) file with the commissioner an application for a hearing on the order. The commissioner shall, upon written request of the person, extend the 30-day period by an additional 30 days provided the request is filed with the commissioner within 30 days after the order is issued. If the commissioner fails to commence the hearing within 15 business days after the application is filed, or within a longer period of time to which the person consents, the order shall be deemed rescinded as if it had not been issued. Within 30 days after the hearing, the commissioner shall affirm, modify, or rescind the order; otherwise, the order shall be deemed rescinded as if it had not been issued, or (B) petition for judicial review of the order pursuant to Section 1085 of the Code of Civil Procedure, where the court shall exercise its independent judgment on the evidence.

(2) The right of any person to whom an order is issued pursuant to subdivision (c) or (e) to petition for judicial review of the order shall not be affected by the failure of that person to apply to the commissioner for a hearing on the order as provided by this subdivision.

(g) (1) Any person to whom an order is issued pursuant to subdivision (b), (c), or (e) may apply to the commissioner to modify or rescind the order. The commissioner shall not grant the application unless he or she finds that it is reasonable to believe that the person will, if and when he or she becomes a subject person, comply with all of the applicable provisions of this code and of any regulation or order issued thereunder.

(2) The right of any person to whom an order is issued pursuant to subdivision (b), (c), or (e) to petition for judicial review of the order shall not be affected by the failure of that person to apply to the commissioner pursuant to paragraph (1).

(h) (1) It is unlawful for any subject person or former subject person to whom an order is issued pursuant to subdivision (b), (c) or (e) to do any of the following as long as the order is effective, except with the prior consent of the commissioner: (A) to serve or act as a subject person for or in any insurer; or (B) to directly or indirectly solicit, procure, or transfer or attempt to transfer or vote any proxy, consent or authorization with respect to any shares or other securities of any insurer having voting rights.

(2) If, after notice and a hearing, the commissioner finds that any person has violated paragraph (1) of this subdivision, the commissioner may order that person to pay to the commissioner a civil penalty in an amount the commissioner may specify; provided however, that the amount of the civil penalty shall not exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each violation or, in the case of a continuing violation, one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each day for which the violation continues, which may be recovered in a civil action.

In determining the amount of civil penalty to be paid to the commissioner under this paragraph, the commissioner shall consider the financial resources and good faith of the person charged, the gravity of the violation, the history of previous violations by the person, and such other factors as in the opinion of the commissioner may be relevant.

(3) If, after notice and a hearing, the commissioner finds that any insurer has knowingly aided and abetted a subject person in a violation of paragraph (1) of this subdivision, the commissioner may order that insurer to pay to the commissioner a civil penalty in an amount the commissioner may specify; provided however, that the amount of the civil penalty shall not exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each violation, or in the case of a continuing violation, ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each day for which the violation continues up to a maximum of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), which may be recovered in a civil action. Continuation of the subject person’s salary or other employee benefits pending final disposition shall not be considered aiding and abetting a subject person.

In determining the amount of civil penalty to be paid to the commissioner under this paragraph, the commissioner shall consider the financial resources and good faith of the person charged, the gravity of the violation, the history of previous violations by the person, and such other factors as in the opinion of the commissioner may be relevant.

(i) Except as otherwise provided by this section any hearing required by this section shall be conducted in accordance with Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, subject to the following:

(1) At the option of the subject person, all such hearings shall be a closed session and private, and the records of the hearings shall not be made public unless the hearing results in a final order adverse to the subject person.

(2) Where judicial review is sought by the subject person pursuant to Section 11523 of the Government Code, the court shall exercise its independent judgment upon the evidence.

(3) When a subject person to whom an order has been issued pursuant to subdivision (c) or (e) applies to the commissioner for a hearing pursuant to subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (f), the Office of Administrative Hearings shall schedule the hearing on a priority basis at the earliest possible time and once the hearing is commenced, it shall not be continued for more than three business days without the consent of the subject person.

(4) If the Office of Administrative Hearings cannot schedule the commencement of a hearing within 15 business days as provided by paragraph (1) of subdivision (f), and the subject person does not waive his or her right to a hearing commencing within 15 days, the hearings may be conducted by administrative law judges appointed by the commissioner. In the event the subject person chooses to accept a hearing before an administrative law judge appointed by the commissioner, the hearing shall be completed within 45 days of commencement unless additional time is requested by the subject person. If the hearing is not completed within 45 days, the order shall be deemed rescinded as if it had not been issued.

(j) Nothing in this section is intended to or shall be construed to create a private cause of action against an offending subject person or an insurer or production agency that aids and abets a subject person, based on the standards established by this section or the commissioner’s findings or orders pursuant to this section.

(k) Notwithstanding this section, or any other authority of the commissioner, the commissioner shall not have the power to remove or replace either the Board of Directors or the President of the State Compensation Insurance Fund.

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 740, Sec. 3.2. Effective January 1, 2007.)