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Sterling’s warrant buyback done

Sat., Sept. 22, 2012

Sterling Financial Corp. has completed its repurchase of a warrant sold to the Treasury Department.

The warrant gave Treasury the rights to buy 97,541 shares of Sterling common stock for $13.20 per share. It was issued in December 2008 as part of Treasury’s bailout of banks across the country.

The recent repurchase of the warrant cost Sterling $825,000 and effectively closes the bank’s participation in the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

Last month Treasury agreed to sell all of its 5.7 million common shares of Sterling in an underwritten public offering.

The department invested about $303 million to rescue Sterling during the financial crisis that erupted in 2008. The Treasury sales will help recover about $120 million of that sum.

Input sought on dross dump site

State environmental regulators are seeking public comment on an old aluminum byproduct disposal area in Mead.

The Heglar Kronquist site covers four acres about 10 miles northeast of downtown Spokane.

The Washington state Department of Ecology said in a news release that from 1969 to 1974, Gemini Management Inc. dumped nearly 55,000 cubic yards of black dross, a byproduct of aluminum processing.

The black dross was hauled to the site from Kaiser Aluminum Corp.’s Trentwood plant in the Spokane Valley. The material polluted nearby water wells and springs, the release said.

Kaiser capped the dump site in 1984, but leaching of chemicals continues, the release said.

A cleanup plan has been developed. The public may review the plan and offer comment to regulators before Oct. 18.

The documents are available at Ecology’s offices at 4601 N. Monroe St. in Spokane or online at gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=1135. Comments may be emailed to

British bank settles with New York

ALBANY, N.Y. – A British bank accused of scheming with the Iranian government to launder billions of dollars has signed an agreement with New York regulators to settle their investigation with a $340 million payment.

Standard Chartered Bank said it’s pleased to reach the settlement and continues working toward resolution with the Department of Justice, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve.

The agreement was signed Friday. State Department of Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said it follows terms announced Aug. 14, including two years of special monitoring at the bank’s New York branch and the assignment of personnel to oversee due diligence.

The agreement relates to $250 billion in 59,000 U.S. dollar transactions for Iranian banks, corporations and individuals from 2001 through 2007.

Tobacco ads down, feds say

RICHMOND, Va. – The nation’s top tobacco companies spent less money on advertising and promotion of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products in recent years, according to the latest data from the Federal Trade Commission.

Numbers released Friday show cigarette marketing decreased more than 5 percent to $8.05 billion in 2010, the latest year available, compared with a year earlier. Meanwhile, cigarette sales decreased about 3 percent to 281.6 billion cigarettes in the same period.

As in years past, much of the money spent by cigarette makers, about 81 percent or $6.49 billion, was for price discounts paid to retailers and wholesalers to reduce the price of cigarettes to consumers as the average price per pack continued to increase to $5.73 in 2010. Rising prices stemmed from a large federal tax increase on tobacco products in 2009, coupled with various state tax increases.

China, Venezuela sign mining deal

CARACAS, Venezuela – Chinese and Venezuelan officials signed an agreement Friday to jointly develop one of the world’s largest gold mines.

The agreement to develop the Las Cristinas gold mine was signed by officials of the Venezuelan government and the Chinese company China International Trust and Investment Corp., or Citic. The mine in southern Bolivar state has been estimated to hold about 17 million ounces of gold.

President Hugo Chavez called it an agreement to begin exploiting both gold and copper deposits at the mine. He called Las Cristinas “one of the biggest reservoirs of gold that exists – not only in Venezuela, not only in Latin America, but in the world.”

Officials didn’t discuss financial details of the agreement but said it specifies engineering, construction and processing of the gold and copper. Chavez said officials also signed an agreement to produce a map of mineral deposits in the South American country.

He announced the deals after a meeting with Chinese officials at the presidential palace. Chavez said they also agreed to deepen cooperation in Venezuela’s oil industry.


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