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Business in brief: Company lays off 39 Spokane workers

New York-based Guardian Life Insurance has laid off 39 workers in its north Spokane office, the company announced Monday.

Guardian’s operation, at Magnesium Road and Nevada Street, has about 480 workers after the cuts, said Richard Jones, vice president for corporate communications, based in New York.

Close to half of the total Spokane work force is involved in handling calls or processing dental or other insurance claims. Guardian administrators said in 2005 the Spokane office was handling about 10 million claims a year.

Jones said the reduction affected all departments in the Spokane office.

“We decided this is an opportunity to take advantage of some efficiencies (at the Spokane center),” Jones said.

Former CEO stole from fund, AIG says

NEW YORK – The former top executive of American International Group Inc. plundered an AIG retirement program of billions of dollars because he was angry at being forced out of the company, a lawyer for AIG told jurors Monday at the start of a civil trial.

Attorney Theodore Wells told the jury in Manhattan that former AIG Chief Executive Officer Maurice “Hank” Greenberg improperly took $4.3 billion in stock from the company in 2005, after he was ousted by the company amid investigations of accounting irregularities.

Wells said that Greenberg, within weeks of being forced out in mid-2005 after a 35-year career building AIG from a small company into the world’s largest insurance provider, gave the go-ahead for tens of millions of shares to be sold from a trust fund. The fund was set up to provide incentive bonuses to a select group of AIG management and highly compensated employees that they would receive upon their retirement.

No sales for Boeing at show’s opening

LE BOURGET, France – Boeing didn’t score a single jet order and its competitor Airbus didn’t fare that much better on Monday’s opening day of the Paris Air Show.

Worries about the unexplained crash of Air France Flight 447 persisted as airlines and plane makers gathered at the 100th anniversary of the world’s first and largest air show.

Pouring rain at the Le Bourget airfield, combined with plunging revenue, layoffs and unprecedented losses in the industry, set the stage for a modest gathering.

While defiant Boeing Co. executives said the overall prospects were robust, the Chicago-based aviation giant reported no new orders Monday. Airbus announced just one, from Qatar Airways, for 24 jets from the A320 family worth $1.9 billion.