WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's choice as the nation's top corporate crime fighter, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, has spent much of his career as a private attorney defending clients from allegations of fraud and white collar crime.
Now, as head of the Justice Department's Corporate Fraud Task Force, Thompson is being asked to turn that experience into successful prosecutions of corporate wrongdoing.
Bush announced the new agency Tuesday in a speech on Wall Street, describing it as a financial crimes SWAT team. The task force will prosecute cases of securities, accounting, tax, mail and wire fraud, money laundering and other financial crimes.
As the Justice Department's second-in-command, Thompson has been a key figure in dealing with the unraveling of corporate giants Enron and WorldCom and the auditing firm Arthur Andersen.
LINCOLN, Ala. (AP) -- Honda Motor Co.'s decision to add 2,000 workers and a new assembly line at its Alabama plant, where it will double production of its light truck line, underscores the state's bid to be a major player in the automotive industry.
The Japanese company's expansion announcement Tuesday came only three months after South Korea-based Hyundai picked a site near Montgomery for a $1 billion plant employing 2,000. Those firms joined Germany's Mercedes-Benz and Japan's Toyota among major automakers opening plants in Alabama.
At least 36,000 people now work in automotive assembly and supply jobs in a state where the industry barely existed a decade ago.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The former chief executive of Northwest Airlines Corp. has filed a lawsuit against the airline to recover nearly $430,000 in pension benefits.
John Dasburg, in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, claims Northwest agreed to pay him $449,799 in a lump sum, but that he has only received $21,726.
Northwest, the nation's fourth-largest airline, vowed Tuesday to fight the lawsuit ''vigorously.'' Spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said the carrier was surprised and disappointed by the lawsuit, which was filed on Monday.
Dasburg, who led Northwest through a tumultuous period beginning late in 1989, left the airline in April 2001 to become chairman, chief executive and president of Burger King Corp. in Miami. He was replaced by Richard Anderson.
DETROIT (AP) -- CMS Energy Corp., which has come under fire over questionable power swaps, says compensation for new chairman and chief executive Ken Whipple will ''be largely deferred'' and be based on stock performance.
The company, the nation's fourth-largest combination gas and electric utility, also announced Tuesday that it would cut 50 jobs, move its headquarters from Dearborn to Jackson and sell its three corporate jets, part of an initiative to cut operating costs by about $50 million a year.
CMS has been in flux since mid-May, when it said an internal review found that its energy marketing unit made energy swaps that artificially inflated its revenues and expenses by more than $4.4 billion from May 2000 through mid-January 2002.
HOUSTON (AP) -- Hotel chains have made progress in providing business opportunities to minorities, but have been slow to increase black property ownership and advertise in black-owned media, a new NAACP report found.
The hotel report cards, which cover 2001 and 2002, were issued at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's annual convention. They assigned grades to 11 national chains -- Marriott received the highest grade, B, on the 2002 report card; Starwood was the lowest with a C.
The NAACP did note some progress in board appointments, employment and increased contracting opportunities, the report said. Hotels have also formed diversity councils and franchise recruitment programs, it said.
Mfume said he hopes the report card will influence consumers' decisions. American blacks spend more than $35 billion annually on travel and tourism, according to the NAACP report.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government filed federal lawsuits Tuesday seeking documents from two major accounting firms detailing tax shelters they have promoted, part of a broader crackdown on arrangements done solely to escape taxes.
The Justice Department, on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service, filed the lawsuits in Washington against KPMG LLP and in Chicago against BDO Seidman LLP. Government lawyers contend neither firm gave the IRS the documents it seeks for its investigation of tax shelters.
The action, coming amid several major corporate accounting scandals, is a signal to U.S. business that the IRS ''will vigorously use all enforcement authority available to it'' to obtain information about shelters, IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti said.
BOSTON (AP) -- Staples Inc. plans to jump more aggressively into the potentially lucrative health care office supplies market with a $385 million all-cash purchase of Minneapolis-based Medical Arts Press, Staples said Tuesday.
The purchase signals a gamble by the Framingham-based retailer and catalogue company that, despite advances in technology, doctors and dentists offices will remain heavily dependent on paper and traditional office supplies for the near future.
Staples chief administrative officer John Mahoney said health care accounts for $13 billion of the $254 billion office product market, with Minneapolis-based Medical Arts Press the leading niche player with $168 million in revenues in 2001.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A House committee voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to bar federal contracts for many companies that move offshore to avoid U.S. taxes in the latest political fallout over corporate misbehavior.
By a bipartisan 41-17 margin, the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee approved the provision by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. She cited $2 billion worth of government contracts held by Stanley Works, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Accenture and other companies that have incorporated abroad, a legal move that can dramatically reduce their federal tax liability.
Sixteen Republicans and one independent joined 24 Democrats in voting for the DeLauro language, highlighting the political appeal of assailing corporate impropriety. The vote came on the same day that President Bush delivered a speech on Wall Street calling for tougher penalties for company executives found to have broken the law.
By The Associated Press
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 178.81, or 1.9 percent, at 9,096.09. It was the average's second triple-digit decline this week, for a total loss of 283.41 that wiped out much of Friday's 324-point rebound. Stocks had pulled back Monday as investors collected profits.
Broader stock gauges also retreated Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 24.15, or 2.0 percent, to 952.83, and the Nasdaq composite index lost 24.49, or 1.7 percent, to 1,381.12. This week alone, the Nasdaq has tumbled 4.6 percent.
Nearby August crude finished the day up 2 cents to $26.09 a barrel.
August heating oil was up .25 cent, closing at 67.05 cents a gallon, while August gasoline finished up .82 cent to reach 76.96 cents a gallon.
In London, Brent crude from the North Sea rose 9 cents to $25.17. Natural gas futures trading in New York moved 5.2 cents higher to $2.991 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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