Oil prices receded after OPEC announced a largely symbolic increase in its official production quotas. They ended the week at $38 a barrel, down from $42 earlier. Analysts said the price swings reflected jitters over terrorist attacks that might disrupt supplies, not fundamentals of supply and demand. In Washington, Democrats threatened to block President Bush's nominee to head the Federal Trade Commission after she voiced lukewarm support for a probe of industry refining practices and strategies.
Mel Karmazin resigned as president of Viacom, ending a long feud at the top of the media conglomerate. Karmazin, who had built up the Infinity Broadcasting radio network before it was bought by Viacom, was a super-salesman and tightfisted numbers man loved by Wall Street but never fully embraced by Sumner Redstone, Viacom's 81-year-old chairman and controlling shareholder. Redstone named two executives to replace Karmazin as co-presidents, setting up a succession battle.
Regulator Joined Riggs
The bank examiner in charge of reviewing Riggs Bank operations during the years it violated federal money-laundering rules was hired by the bank just weeks after resigning his government post in 2002. Officials at the Comptroller of the Currency conceded they had been too lenient in overseeing Riggs. But they failed to mention the subsequent hiring of the examiner, R. Ashley Lee, during two days of congressional testimony. Apparently there is no law that prevents Lee from working for banks he once regulated.
Robert Georgine, the former chairman of the union-owned Ullico insurance company, received $20 million in stock, bonuses and other benefits between 1998 and 2001, in addition to his $650,000 annual salary, a Senate panel reported. Investigators also found that four relatives were employed by the company, with one receiving $380,000 in loans that were never repaid. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Ullico under Georgine was "an extraordinary example of insider dealing, corruption and abuse of power."
Drug's Untold Story
For years, drug companies have publicized studies that show the effectiveness of their products while giving little visibility to unfavorable reports. But last week, New York's attorney general sued GlaxoSmithKline, saying the practice amounted to consumer fraud. The case involves Paxil, which one unpublished study found was no more effective than a placebo in preventing teenage depression. The company said it had met its legal obligation to provide the results of all trials to the Food and Drug Administration.