AG levels charges on contractor; other business briefs

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NEW YORK


AG levels charges on contractor

The head of a New York City construction company doing work at Kennedy Airport has been accused of cheating his workers out of $100,000. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman says Leonid Fridman was arraigned on grand larceny and money laundering charges. Fridman owned and operated Millennium Commercial Corp. The Brooklyn company was a subcontractor doing tile restoration on the renovation of the TWA Flight Center at JFK in 2009 and 2010. Schneiderman said Fridman required workers to repay him part of their wages. He then allegedly funneled the cash through a Florida bank account. He was legally required to pay his workers between $50 and $70 per hour. Authorities say they got $10 to $30 an hour. Fridman was arrested Friday. The name of his attorney was not immediately known.


NATION


Mall operator: Key measure up

Shopping mall operator Simon Property Group -- owner of Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City, Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station and Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove -- said Monday a key measure of profitability climbed in its fourth quarter as occupancy improved and rents increased. The Indianapolis company said its funds from operations, or FFO, rose to $827.4 million, or $2.29 per share, up from $678.9 million, or $1.91 per share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected $2.17 per share. FFO adds items like amortization and depreciation back to net income and is considered a key to understanding the ongoing business of a real estate investment trust like Simon. Minimum rent per square foot climbed 3.4 percent to $40.73, while occupancy rose to 95.3 percent from 94.6 percent.


WORLD


Canada bids adieu to the penny

Canada has begun phasing out its penny, whose production costs have come to exceed its monetary value. The Royal Canadian Mint Monday officially ended its distribution of one-cent coins to financial institutions. While people may still use pennies, the government has issued guidelines urging store owners to start rounding prices to the nearest nickel for cash transactions. Electronic purchases will still be billed to the nearest cent. New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Sweden and others have also dropped the penny.


U.K. touts bank breakup rules

Britain's treasury chief warned the country's banks Monday they face being broken up if they fail to protect their retail operations from their riskier investment arms. George Osborne told executives from JPMorgan that the days of banks being "too big to fail" are over in Britain, and that taxpayers shouldn't be expected to bail out the lenders. "My message to the banks is clear: if a bank flouts the rules, the regulator and the Treasury will have the power to break it up altogether -- full separation, not just a ring fence," he said. "We're not going to repeat the mistakes of the past." Risky investments undermined banks' stability in 2008, leading to taxpayer bailouts of two big U.K. banks.


Foxconn expands union's scope

Taiwan-owned Foxconn Technology Group, a leading maker of Apple's iPhones and gadgets for other global brands, is widening the scope of union elections at its sprawling facilities in China. The move, confirmed by the company Monday, follows a series of recommendations from an international panel hired by Apple to audit conditions for the 1.2 million workers in Foxconn's mainland factories. Foxconn said it will deepen employees' involvement in union elections so the unions can more effectively represent their interests. It said it hopes this will impact labor standards throughout China. Foxconn came under heavy scrutiny for labor policies that allegedly led a dozen workers to commit suicide. -- AP

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