Business briefs

2013-07-03T00:00:00Z Business briefsFrom Wire Reports From Wire Reports Arizona Daily Star
July 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 


Navajo leader signs law allowing alcohol at casino

WINDOW ROCK - Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has signed a bill allowing people gambling at the tribe's Arizona casino to drink alcohol. The bill, signed Tuesday, was approved Friday by the Navajo Nation Council on a 9-7 vote.

Tribal law permits alcohol sales and consumption only in casino restaurants and at the Navajo Nation's Antelope Point Marina at Lake Powell.

The chief executive of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise has said expanding areas where alcohol can be consumed would make the Twin Arrows casino near Flagstaff more competitive with the other nearly two dozen Arizona casinos run by American Indian tribes.

The expansion does not apply to the Navajos' casinos in New Mexico.

Father, son are convicted in $100M Ponzi scheme

PHOENIX - A Mesa father and son have been convicted of operating a $100 million Ponzi scheme that targeted the area's Mormon community.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that Brent F. Williams, 66, and Guy Andrew Williams, 42, were found guilty by a federal jury in Phoenix on 38 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

Brent Williams was chief financial officer of Mesa-based Mathon investment funds, and Guy Williams was managing director.

Evidence at trial showed that the Mathon entities collected more than $100 million in funds from investors from February 2002 until April 2005.

The defendants allegedly used investor money to pay themselves salaries of more than $10 million.

Financial planner sentenced to 44 months for fraud

PHOENIX - A financial planner has been sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison in an investment-fraud scheme that targeted many Sun City residents.

Prosecutors say Jay Kevin Perry, 38, of Phoenix, was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to a 44-month term.

A hearing to resolve the nearly $1 million in restitution claims filed against Perry is set for Aug. 6.

Prosecutors say Perry defrauded estate-planning clients who ranged in age from their 60s to their late 90s. He convinced them to liquidate annuities and lend money to him.

Authorities say Perry promised reasonable returns but made few payments to his clients. In some cases, Perry secured his clients' loans with commercial property on which he had failed to make payments. He later filed for bankruptcy.


Auto sales surge, return to prerecession levels

DETROIT - Three years ago U.S. car buyers started trickling back into showrooms after largely sitting out the recession. That trickle has turned into a flood.

From owners of revitalized small businesses that need to replace aging pickups to new hires who need a fresh set of wheels for the daily commute, increasingly confident buyers pushed auto sales back to prerecession levels in the first six months of this year. Sales in the January-June period topped 7.8 million, their best first half since 2007, say Autodata Corp. and Ward's AutoInfoBank. Automakers also reported that June sales rose 9 percent to 1.4 million.

The outlook for the rest of 2013 is just as strong. The factors boosting sales - low interest rates, wider credit availability, rising home construction and hot new vehicles - will be around for a while, analysts say.

Lawsuit seeks to prevent American-US Airways merger

Opponents of the proposed merger of American Airlines and Tempe-based US Airways filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block the deal, saying it would hurt consumers by driving up airfares.

The suit was filed in federal district court in San Francisco by antitrust lawyer Joseph Alioto, on behalf of nearly 40 consumers.

Alioto argued that the merger would lead to fewer flights, reduced service to small cities and a lower quality of service overall. He said the merger would leave four airlines - United, Delta, Southwest and the post-merger American - controlling about 90 percent of the domestic airline industry, leading to higher prices.

American Airlines spokesman Mike Trevino called the lawsuit "baseless." He said the merger would combine two airlines with little overlap in their routes, give customers more destinations and is not expected to result in the closure of hub airports currently operated.

Federal Reserve raises banks' capital requirements

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve agreed Tuesday to raise the amount of capital that big banks must hold to prevent their collapse and reduce the threat they pose to the broader financial system.

The higher capital requirements were mandated by Congress in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. They are also in accordance with international standards agreed to after the downturn.

Banks had lobbied to modify the requirements on higher capital, saying they could hamper their ability to lend. But experts said most big banks have already increased their capital reserves.

Factory orders up in May as investment strengthens

Orders to U.S. factories rose in May, helped by a third straight month of stronger business investment. The gains suggest manufacturing may be picking up after a weak start to the year. The Commerce Department said factory orders rose 2.1 percent in May, up from 1.3 percent in April.

GM, Honda join to develop hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles

General Motors Co. and Honda Motor Co. are joining forces to develop hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles.

The companies said Tuesday they plan to develop new hydrogen-storage and fuel-cell technologies by 2020. They will also push for more hydrogen fueling stations.

Fuel-cell vehicles have electric motors that are powered by a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. The only byproducts are water vapor and heat, so there's no pollution. But the lack of infrastructure to transport and store liquid hydrogen has been a barrier to the cars' development.

Feds: Tiffany exec stole jewelry, sold it for $1.3M

NEW YORK - A former executive with Tiffany & Co. stole a little-blue-box bounty from the jeweler's midtown Manhattan headquarters and resold it for more than $1.3 million, federal authorities said Tuesday.

Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, who was vice president of product development, was arrested Tuesday and faces charges of wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property.


EU says free-trade talks with US will begin next week

BRUSSELS - The European Union confirmed Tuesday that free-trade negotiations with the United States should kick off as planned next week, despite widespread concerns over the alleged eavesdropping of EU diplomats.

The Associated Press

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