Judge orders tobacco maker to pay state nearly $30 million

Posted: May 14, 2014 at 4:50 p.m.

LITTLE ROCK — A Canadian tobacco company has been ordered to pay Arkansas nearly $30 million for failing to set money aside in escrow in lieu of participating in the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

The state accused Grand River Enterprises of violating the law by not depositing money in escrow for its sales of Seneca cigarettes in 2005 and 2006.

At a hearing in Pulaski County Circuit Court Wednesday, Judge Wendell Griffen granted Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's motion for summary judgment.

Griffen says he will order Grand River Enterprises to pay a civil penalty of more than $29.4 million — which represents 300 percent of the amount that the company did not deposit into escrow.

A message seeking comment about the judge's order left with the company wasn't immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.