U.S. files charge against Toyota, $1.2B penalty PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press TOM KRISHER, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 11:46

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government announced a $1.2 billion settlement with Toyota Motor Corp. on Wednesday and filed a criminal charge alleging the company defrauded consumers by issuing misleading statements about safety issues in Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Attorney General Eric Holder said it is the largest financial penalty of its kind ever imposed on an auto company. Under a deferred prosecution agreement, an independent monitor will review policies, practices and procedures at the company.

The action concludes a four-year criminal investigation into the Japanese automaker's disclosure of safety problems, which focused on whether Toyota was forthright in reporting problems related to unintended acceleration troubles.

"Rather than promptly disclosing and correcting safety issues ... Toyota made misleading public statements to consumers and gave inaccurate facts to members of Congress," Holder told a news conference.

Billionaire philanthropist Jim Stowers dead at 90 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 15:08

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jim Stowers Jr., the billionaire founder of one of the nation's leading investment management firms who gave away most of his fortune to fight disease, has died. He was 90.

A joint release from the Kansas City, Mo., research firm that bears his name says Stowers died Monday after a period of declining health.

Stowers was a struggling mutual fund salesman in 1958 when he founded Twentieth Century Investors Inc. in Kansas City with only two mutual funds and $107,000 in assets.

It later became American Century Investments, one of the nation's leading investment firms that now manages about $141 billion.

Stowers and his wife both successfully fought cancer. In 2000, they promised more than $1 billion to create the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wal-Mart takes aim at $2B used video game market PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by KEN SWEET, AP Business Writers MAE ANDERSON, AP Business Writers   
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 15:09

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart plans to start buying used video games from shoppers at stores in a move that goes after the bread-and-butter business of GameStop.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to expand its current online trade-in program by allowing customers to trade their used video games at 3,100 Wal-Mart stores in exchange for credit toward the purchase of other items.

The world's largest retailer is taking aim at the $2 billion used video-game market. It's a business that's dominated by GameStop Corp., the world's biggest dedicated seller of video games with the largest and most-established video game trade-in program.

Retailers from Amazon to Best Buy also offer used video game trade-in programs. But Wal-Mart's new program is the biggest threat to GameStop, which for the last three years has drawn roughly half of its profits from buying and selling used video games.

First production model Stratocaster for sale: $250,000 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by JOHNNY CLARK, Associated Press KRISTIN HALL, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 15:07

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — George Gruhn's guitar shop in Nashville is a kind of mecca for fine, vintage musical instruments, but even Gruhn is blown away by the latest addition to his inventory. He says it's the very first production model Fender Stratocaster ever made.

You can own it for a cool quarter million dollars.

The sunburst-finish 1954 Strat bears the serial number 0100.

Gruhn says it was sold to an amateur who took good care of it. More than 30 years ago it was acquired by Richard Smith, one of the foremost experts on Stratocasters. Smith is selling it on consignment through Gruhn's Guitars.

The Fender Stratocaster, first produced in 1954, has been described as a guitar that changed the world. Gruhn says the very first production model Strat is a national treasure.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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