FINRA fines five banks $4.5M
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority says five of the country's largest banks will pay $4.5 million to settle claims they used municipal and state bond funds to pay lobbyists. The regulatory agency said Thursday that between 2006 and 2010 Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley made payments to California business lobbying group Cal PSA and requested that those payments be reimbursed as underwriting expenses from the proceeds of municipal and state bond offerings. FINRA also says the firms did not adequately disclose this nature of the fees to issuers. In doing so, they violated fair dealing and supervisory rules. The firms neither admitted nor denied the charges as part of the settlement.
Apple slice $4.2M for its CEO
Apple CEO Tim Cook got $4.2 million in pay for the latest fiscal year, a modest sum compared with last year, when the company's board set him up with stock now worth $510 million for taking the reins in 2011. Cook's pay for fiscal 2012, which ended in September, consisted of $1.4 million in salary, a bonus of $2.8 million, and $17,000 in company contributions to his 401(k) account and life insurance premiums, according to a filing. Apple Inc.'s board saw no need to give Cook additional shares in 2012 after the sign-on grant of 1 million shares in 2011. Half of those shares vest in 2016 and the other half in 2021. A lot could happen to the value of the shares before Cook can cash them out, but the sign-on grant made him -- at least on paper -- the highest-paid U.S. CEO in 2011.
Digital reading on the increase
The tastes of the reading public are turning digital. A Pew Internet Research Center survey released Thursday found that the percentage of Americans aged 16 and older who read an e-book grew from 16 percent in 2011 to 23 percent this year. Readers of traditional books dropped from 72 percent to 67 percent. Overall, those reading books of any kind dropped from 78 percent to 75 percent, a shift Pew called statistically insignificant. Those owning an e-book device or tablet jumped from 18 percent to 33 percent, with much of that increase coming from last year's holiday season, when millions received e-readers as gifts. Libraries offering digital texts grew from 24 percent to 31 percent. The telephone survey of 2,252 people aged 16 and older was conducted from Oct. 15 to Nov. 10.
Ships rerouted to save whales
Ship traffic off the California coast will be rerouted under new rules designed to protect slow-moving endangered whales from ship collisions. The International Maritime Organization has approved vessel lane changes on approaches to San Francisco Bay and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and in the Santa Barbara Channel. The changes take effect next year after the Coast Guard goes through the rule-making process. Some types of whales are prone to ship strikes when they are lured to the shoreline to feed on krill. In 2010, five whales died in ship accidents in the area outside San Francisco Bay.
2012 a record year for Toyota
Toyota expects to sell a record 9.7 million vehicles this year, bouncing back by 22 percent from a disaster-struck 2011. It has set an even higher target of 9.91 million vehicles for 2013. The numbers released this week underline Toyota Motor Corp.'s turnaround from supply disruptions caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. They also underline the Japanese automaker's ambitions to move past the woes from massive recalls that began in 2009, especially in North America. On Wednesday, Toyota said it reached a settlement of more than $1 billion to resolve hundreds of lawsuits from Toyota owners who said the value of their cars and trucks plunged after the recalls involving unintended acceleration problems in Toyota vehicles.