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In brief: Retailers sever ties over child labor

Sat., Oct. 31, 2009, midnight

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Wal-Mart and two other top retailers said Friday they are suspending business with a large southwestern Michigan blueberry grower after investigators found children as young as 6 working in the grower’s fields.

Wal-Mart, Kroger and Meijer said pending further information, they have stopped buying products from Adkin Blue Ribbon Blueberry Co. near South Haven, about 85 miles northeast of Chicago.

Adkin general manager Tony Marr said the company has a strictly enforced written policy prohibiting young children from working in its fields.

Adkin is conducting its own investigation to determine what happened, he said. Parents sometimes bring children with them because they don’t have child care, he added.

Guilty plea expected by Madoff auditor

NEW YORK – Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff’s longtime auditor is expected to plead guilty next week in a cooperation deal, federal prosecutors told a judge Friday.

Prosecutors said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein that accountant David Friehling was expected to plead guilty at a conference on Tuesday.

In the letter, signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa A. Baroni, prosecutors said they wanted to notify the court so that it could provide notice to victims of Madoff’s multibillion-dollar fraud that the plea hearing will take place.

They said Friehling will enter the plea to revised charges that accuse him of securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, making false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and obstructing or impeding the administration of Internal Revenue Service laws.

The charges carry a potential prison term of up to 108 years in prison.

Land sale helps keep Weyerhaeuser even

NEW YORK – For the second time in two years, lumber and wood products producer Weyerhaeuser Co. dodged a quarterly loss by selling valuable properties.

The company said Friday it broke even in the third quarter, partly on after-tax proceeds of $98 million from the sale of 143,000 acres of Oregon timberland. The last time it posted a quarterly profit was a year ago when it sold a packaging business worth $6 billion.

The last time Weyerhaeuser posted a profit without a major asset sale was the third quarter of 2007.

Weyerhaeuser’s break-even results in the third quarter, which were also helped by a $74 million federal tax credit, compared with net income of $280 million, or $1.33 a share, in the third quarter of 2008. That $280 million profit rested on another sale – the company’s former packaging business.


 

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