Madoff aides found guilty
Five former aides to investment manager Bernard Madoff were convicted on Monday of charges that they helped their boss conceal his multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme for years. A federal jury in New York found back-office director Daniel Bonventre, portfolio managers Annette Bongiorno and Joann Crupi, and computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez guilty on all counts, including securities fraud and conspiracy to defraud clients. The five defendants are to be sentenced in late July. Madoff, 75, is serving a 150-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in March 2009 to running the Ponzi scheme.
Oil services boss detained
Mexican authorities have detained the owner of an oil services company who allegedly defrauded Citigroup and may have used his professional soccer team to launder money. Amado Yanez showed up for questioning in the case on Saturday. He has been held since Sunday pending a prosecutors’ request that a judge authorize a form of house arrest for him for up to 40 days. He is suspected of committing fraud through the oil services company he heads, Oceanografia SA de CV. Yanez also owns a soccer team in Mexico’s first division.
Toyota to restart production
Japanese firm Toyota said yesterday it has hired 1,000 contract workers to help restart production, after its employees in India refused to return to work following an end to a eight-day company lockout. The Toyota workers and management at two plants near the southern high-tech city of Bangalore are at loggerheads over pay issues, which they have been negotiating for 10 months. The employees refused to resume work after the company lifted an eight-day lockout on Monday.
Australia to ink Japan pact
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday said substantial progress had been made in securing free-trade agreements with its three largest export markets and a pact with Japan should be finalized within weeks. Canberra in December last year announced a free-trade agreement with Asian giant South Korea after four years of negotiations and Japan is expected to be next, followed by China, with Abbott visiting all three countries in the next two weeks. Australia has previously said it also hopes to conclude an agreement with China, its top export market, this year.
S&P cuts credit rating
Standard & Poor’s (S&P) cut the nation’s credit rating on Monday by one notch, citing the government’s unclear policy signals as it faces a weaker fiscal situation and slower growth. S&P put Brazil’s rating at “BBB-,” the lowest level for investment grade debt, and called the outlook stable. S&P said the rating cut reflects “slippage” in the government’s fiscal balance.
Royal Mail to axe 1,600 jobs
Britain’s Royal Mail yesterday said it plans to axe 1,600 jobs under a fresh cost-cutting drive six months after the group was partly privatized. Royal Mail said in a statement that most of the jobs to go would be in management, with no delivery staff losing their positions. It added that it would create “300 new or enhanced roles,” resulting in a net loss of 1,300 jobs. The changes are expected to deliver annualized cost savings of about ￡50 million (US$82.5 million), it said.