The former Archer Daniels Midland Co. executive who secretly recorded conversations that snared the company in a global price-fixing case pleaded guilty Friday to swindling ADM out of $9 million.
Mark E. Whitacre pleaded to 37 counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, interstate transportation of stolen property and filing a false income tax return.
Sentencing was set for Jan. 13. Prosecutors said they wanted Whitacre to serve at least 6 1/2 years in prison -- a small fraction of the maximum sentence.
The plea caps his fall from being a major FBI weapon against alleged corporate crime to an admitted criminal, himself. Whitacre still faces trial in Chicago next year on additional charges of working to fix prices for the livestock-feed supplement lysine, along with Michael Andreas, the son of ADM chairman Dwayne Andreas, and retired executive Terrance Wilson.
Saturn cuts prices, sends refunds
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Saturn Corp. is cutting sticker prices on 1998 sedans and sending refund checks ranging from $300 to $960 to people who already bought them, the company announced Friday.
The refunds and price cuts are a response to a sluggish market. Saturn's sales are down 9 percent this year.
The 14,000 Saturn customers who purchased the cars since July should have the checks by next week. The refunds will cost Saturn about $7 million, said Joe Kennedy, vice president of sales, service and marketing.
The move came three days after Chevrolet -- another General Motors company -- slashed the base price of its redesigned 1998 Prizm by 12 percent and promised unspecified refunds. Prizm prices were cut $1,670 to $12,463 on the base model and $59 less on the LSi to $15,034, which will now include an option package that originally cost $1,535.
The Saturn SL1 sedan, which sold for $11,595, is now $11,295. The SL2, previously listed at $12,495, is now $12,755, but air conditioning is standard rather than a $960 option.
Saturn also is making air conditioning a standard feature for its upscale wagons and coupes, rather than an option.
VW recalling 903,000 Audis
INGOLSTADT, Germany (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen's Audi AG unit said it was recalling 903,800 cars built from 1988 through 1996 because of electrical defects that could cause the airbags to unintentionally inflate.
Audi said it was recalling 835,000 of its 1995 and 1996 model Audi 80, A4, A6 and A8 sedans, as well as 68,800 sedans built from 1988 to 1993.
Airbags could inflate, Audi said, while the cars aren't moving in weather with high static electricity.
Of the 1995 and 1996 models, 391,000 are in Germany and 39,300 in the U.S., Audi said. The 1988-93 recall affects Audi 80, 100, 200 V8, Coupe and Cabriolets sedans. Of those, 19,400 are in Germany and most of the rest are in the U.S., Audi said.
Buffalo stocks higher in week
Buffalo stocks rose this week, led by General Motors Corp., Bon-Ton Stores Inc. and Ford Motor Co.
The Buffalo Bloomberg Stock Index, an employee-weighted list of 58 companies with operations in the region, rose 0.24, or 0.13 percent, to 190.28 this week. The index is up 42.21 percent so far this year.
For the week, GM rose 2- 3/1 6 to 70, a 52-week closing high. The automaker's third-quarter earnings are expected to be little changed from the year-earlier period when the company reports on Tuesday.
Bon-Ton Stores shares rose 1 3/1 6 to 13 3/4 this week. On Thursday, Bon-Ton shares gained 2 3/8 to a 52-week high of 14 1/2 after the company said September same-store sales rose 10 percent from a year earlier.
Ford Motor shares increased 2 3/4 to 49 1/4 for the week. On Thursday, the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker's stock was raised to "outperform" from "neutral" by analyst David Garrity at Smith Barney Inc.
Among declining issues, American depositary receipts of U.K.-based HSBC Holdings, the holding group for HSBC Group, fell 31 to 313. Buffalo-based HSBC Americas is a HSBC Holdings subsidiary that includes Marine Midland Bank.
This week, the Buffalo Bloomberg Stock Index rose more, in percentage terms, than the Dow Jones industrial Average. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the Nasdaq Composite Index both outperformed the Buffalo index this week.