GUILT ADMITTED: Daiwa bank's former New York bond trader repeatedly wished for his own death in a rambling confession letter of his 12-year cheating odyssey that led to a $1.1 billion loss at the big Japanese bank. A transcript of Toshihide Iguchi's explosive letter was released by authorities this week when Daiwa Bank Ltd. pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges. The bank agreed Wednesday to pay a record $340 million criminal fine for helping to perpetuate the huge cover-up started by Iguchi.
PRINCELY PROFIT: The Royal Divorce won't mean a Royal Windfall to most Charles and Di watchers, but it could mean a few more dollars in your pocket if you have some old trinkets commemorating The Royal Wedding. "Any publicity is good publicity," said George Darrow, owner of Darrow's Fun Antiques in New York. "As interest re-enters the public mind then the interest in collecting the stuff comes back . . . so the prices go up too." Victor Weiner, executive director of the Appraisers Association of America, predicted a "modest escalation" in prices.
WEIGHING IN AGAINST MRS. FIELDS: Mrs. Fields Cookies, the nation's largest seller of fresh-baked cookies, has agreed to stop promoting certain cookies as low-fat, the Federal Trade Commission said. To be considered low-fat, cookies must contain no more than 3 grams of fat per serving, according to Food and Drug Administration rules. The Chocolite and Semi-Sweet Classic cookies have 5.5 grams of fat.
BLUE CROSS FINED: Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield was fined $1.1 million Friday, the largest penalty ever levied against a health insurance company in New York.Among its sins, according to state Insurance Superintendent Edward Muhl, the company rejected some claims for certain treatments while paying others. It charged unapproved rates to policy holders, failed to maintain accurate claims files and didn't cooperate with a state investigation.
ATTENTION SHOPPERS: Kmart Corp. said Friday it has finalized agreements with all its lenders allowing the struggling discount retailer to restructure about $550 million worth of real estate debt. The agreements eliminated the possibility the discount retailer would have to immediately pay back much of its real-estate debt should its credit rating falls below investment grade, or to "junk" status.
ATM FEES:MasterCard International Inc. succumbed to industry pressure Friday, permitting banks to charge extra fees to users of its automated teller machine network, one of the largest in the country. The announcement came a few months after Visa International, a bank association that sets rules for ATMs, said banks could begin imposing extra fees on users April 1.
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