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FINANCIAL CRISIS

Greek parties fail to reach austerity deal

ATHENS | Crisis talks on a debt deal for Greece among the three leaders of parties supporting the coalition government were suspended and will continue Monday.

Greece is racing to finalize austerity reforms needed for a new 130 billion euro ($171 billion) bailout without which it would face bankruptcy in late March. But in a country deep in recession, with unemployment at 19 percent, many politicians and unions oppose more austerity measures.

The three party leaders held a five-hour meeting late Sunday with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos to hammer out a deal with debt inspectors representing eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund, but failed to reach an agreement.

FORECLOSURES

New York sues banks over foreclosure efforts

ALBANY, N.Y. | New York's attorney general on Friday accused some of the nation's largest banks of deceit and fraud in using an electronic mortgage registry that he said puts homeowners at a disadvantage in foreclosures.

Democrat Eric Schneiderman sued Bank of America Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. over their use of the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc., or MERS, claiming the banks submitted court documents containing false and misleading information that appeared to provide the authority for foreclosures when there was none.

The lawsuit also names the registry operator, MERSCORP Inc. of Virginia.

Mr. Schneiderman claims the MERS system has eliminated homeowners' ability to track property transfers through traditional public records. He said the electronic system now stores that data and is plagued by inaccuracies.

There was no comment from the banks.

FAST FOOD

Wendy's has a beef with Northwest franchisee

HELENA, Mont. | Wendy's International has a beef with a franchisee that owns 11 fast-food restaurants in Montana, Oregon and Washington.

The Dublin, Ohio-based corporation last month asked a federal judge for an injunction to keep BZB Enterprises from using its brand.

Wendy's said in its Jan. 20 complaint that the Havre, Mont.-based franchisee has ignored demands to comply with Wendy's standards after food-safety concerns were raised at several of its restaurants.

Wendy's previously terminated the franchise agreements for six of the restaurants, but BZB Enterprises and the owners named in the lawsuit "boldly continue to operate the restaurants with complete disregard for the critical food safety concerns raised in the audits," the complaint reads.

For example, a 2008 audit of the Wendy's restaurant in Havre found 265 food safety issues ranging from unclean preparation equipment to employees not washing their hands. Another audit in 2010 found 111 deficiencies, most relating to cleanliness and food safety, which weren't corrected in follow-up audits, prompting Wendy's to terminate the franchise agreement in November.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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