Business digest 11/26/05

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Former AIG exec may face more charges

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Additional civil charges against former American International Group Inc. chairman and CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg are possible, but no state criminal charges are expected, a spokesman for New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said Friday. On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that a person familiar with the matter said Spitzer is expected to add to his civil complaint against Greenberg as early as next week. Criminal charges are still possible, however, from federal prosecutors in two separate investigations of Greenberg, the newspaper reported. Greenberg's attorney already has argued against any charges to the federal prosecutors, the newspaper reported, citing two knowledgeable sources. Spokesmen for Greenberg's lawyer wouldn't comment in the report. Greenberg's attorney and AIG spokesmen were unavailable Friday to return calls requesting comment.

Taser may be taken off Nasdaq stock market

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Stun gun maker Taser International Inc. said Friday that the Nasdaq Stock Market told the company its stock could be delisted because it failed to file its third-quarter financial report on time. The company's shares shed 90 cents, or 12 percent, to close at $6.50 Friday on the Nasdaq. Taser said it will appeal the Nasdaq's decision by requesting a hearing before the exchange's listing qualifications panel. Until the panel makes a decision, Taser's stock will continue to be traded on the Nasdaq, though its stock symbol will be changed to "TASRE" from "TASR" until it files its quarterly report. The company, whose earnings and revenue have dropped sharply in recent quarters amid concern about the safety of its stun guns, said on Nov. 15 it would not file its third-quarter 10-Q report on time since it had to restate its first and second-quarter results. The restatement relates to errors in how it accounted for legal and professional fees.

News exec calls fraud charges 'smear job'

TORONTO -- Fallen newspaper magnate Conrad Black says he will show up in Chicago next week to face fraud charges, which he called "one massive smear job from A to Z." Black, who made a brief appearance at a Toronto book launch, said he'll "definitely" show up for his scheduled court appearance Wednesday. Black, 61, faces charges he defrauded the Hollinger International publishing empire he formerly controlled out of tens of millions of dollars. Hollinger International Inc. owns the Chicago Sun-Times and other publications in the United States and Canada and formerly controlled The Telegraph of London and The Jerusalem Post. A federal indictment filed last week accused him of looting millions of dollars from its coffers through bogus fees and abuses of perquisites, such as using the corporate jet for a vacation in Bora Bora and dipping into the Hollinger treasury to pay for his wife's birthday party.

China swaps currency for the first time

SHANGHAI, China -- Pushing China's foreign exchange reform ahead by another step, the central bank on Friday carried out its first currency swap deals with local banks in a move that could help bring more flexibility to the market. The People's Bank of China confirmed that it was carrying out its first foreign exchange swap deal on Friday, but would not give more details. A Beijing-based trader for a major state-owned bank said that the central bank offered one-year currency swaps worth $6 billion at 7.85 Chinese yuan per dollar. The swap deal didn't seem to have any immediate effect on the yuan spot market. In spot dealings, the yuan closed at 8.0815 to the dollar on Friday. It ended trading Thursday at 8.0805.

Indonesia to make drug to counter bird flu

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesia on Friday said it will begin producing the bird flu drug Tamiflu. Hard-hit Vietnam reported another outbreak of the virus among poultry. Swiss-based drug manufacturer Roche Holding AG said it will let Indonesia produce the drug and the country will start making it as soon as it decides whether to get the raw materials from China or Korea, said Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari. Roche refused to comment on whether it was offering Indonesia any technical assistance. Tamiflu, otherwise known as oseltamivir, has shown promise in the treatment of human H5N1 bird flu infections. The announcement came the same day the country announced that bird flu has been detected in poultry throughout Jakarta.

-- From wire reports

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