3 Indicted on Bribery Charges

Three men were charged with offering hundreds of millions of dollars -- as well as shopping sprees, jewelry and medical treatment -- to top officials in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan to get favorable treatment in oil deals.

Investment promoter Viktor Kozeny, Frederic Bourke Jr. and David Pinkerton were charged in a 27-count indictment in U.S. District Court in Manhattan with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it a crime to offer payment to foreign government officials to obtain or retain business.

Bourke and Pinkerton surrendered to the FBI in Manhattan while Kozeny was arrested Wednesday in the Bahamas, where he was awaiting a court appearance. Bourke and Pinkerton each pleaded not guilty. A lawyer for Kozeny said the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act does not apply to him and he cannot be prosecuted for charges related to payments he allegedly made to foreign officials.


Retail Sales Up at Discounters

September retail sales figures indicated consumers' growing anxiety about the economy. Consumers struggling with higher gasoline prices and the economic fallout from Hurricane Katrina shopped for basics at discounters, so retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Costco Wholesale had a solid month. But they avoided spending on nonessential items, leaving many mall-based apparel stores, such as Gap, Ann Taylor and Talbots, disappointed.


Pension Bill Stalls in Senate

Senators backed by an alliance of manufacturers and unions blocked action on a pension overhaul bill in protest of requirements that companies with less-than-stellar credit ratings pay more into their pension funds.

The bill would tighten rules to guarantee that employers fully fund their pension programs. The measure also would shore up the financial position of the federal agency that insures those plans. Senate leaders had hoped for a short debate and quick vote on the bill before leaving today for a weeklong recess.

"We're talking, but we're not getting anywhere," said Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). With Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), DeWine used a procedure that allows individual senators to stop legislation from advancing to the full Senate.

DeWine said the auto and steel industries in his state were among those that could be hurt by the bill's requirements.


Delphi May Seek Steep Pay Cuts

Auto-parts maker Delphi wants to cut workers' hourly pay as much as 64 percent, according to United Auto Workers Local 699 in Michigan, which represents 4,000 Delphi employees. The union hasn't agreed to Delphi's demands, which also include closing or selling a large number of factories and making major cuts in benefits.

Delphi has said it may file for bankruptcy protection by Oct. 17 unless it gets broad concessions from the union and $6 billion in financial aid from General Motors, its largest customer and former parent.


Eisner Leaves Disney Board

Michael D. Eisner, who stepped down as Walt Disney Co.'s chief executive last week, resigned from the company's board, leaving earlier than the 2006 departure he had planned, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Eisner, 63, had said he would leave the board at the end of his term next year.

New chief executive Robert A. Iger will receive a base salary of $2 million per year, double that of Eisner, the company said. Iger also will receive a one-time grant of 500,000 shares of company stock and be eligible for up to $7.25 million in annual performance-based bonuses.

Accenture said that its fiscal fourth-quarter profit climbed 25 percent, to $229.1 million from $183.1 million, on record growth of its consulting business in the Western Hemisphere. Revenue for the three months ended Aug. 31 grew 13 percent, to $4.31 billion. Accenture's full-year profit jumped 36 percent, to $940.5 million, as revenue grew 13 percent, to $17.09 billion.

Constellation Brands reported a 2.3 percent increase in its fiscal second-quarter profit, to $80 million (34 cents a share) from $78.2 million (35 cents) a year earlier when it had 3 percent fewer common shares outstanding. The Fairport, N.Y., producer and marketer of wine, imported beer and spirits reported that revenue for the three months ended Aug. 31 climbed 13 percent, to nearly $1.47 billion.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.

Frederic Bourke Jr., bottom left, and David Pinkerton, bottom right, face charges in a scheme to bribe senior government officials in Azerbaijan.