- - Thursday, April 28, 2011


State Assembly approves rental car recall bill

SACRAMENTO | One house of the California Legislature on Thursday narrowly approved the nation’s first law to force rental car companies to pull vehicles off the road after a safety recall.

Assemblyman Bill Monning introduced the bill after the deaths of two young sisters from California in a fiery rental car crash in 2004. They were driving a rental car that had been recalled because a leak could cause a fire in the engine compartment. The company had been notified about the defect a month before the fatal wreck.

The Assembly passed the bill Thursday on a 42-26 vote, one more than the simple majority needed. It now goes to the Senate.

The proposal has faced stiff lobbying by rental car companies, which say the bill unfairly singles them out but doesn’t apply to taxis or other fleet vehicles. They also contend that a national standard is needed and that some recalls pose more severe safety threats than others, so they should be given flexibility in how to address the problem.


Questions linger about Berkshire executive’s exit

OMAHA | Warren Buffett will face tough questions about former Berkshire Hathaway executive David Sokol at this weekend’s shareholders meeting. The company issued a report this week that said the former top executive violated the company’s ethics policies.

Some shareholders say Mr. Sokol’s purchase of Lubrizol stock shortly before he recommended that Berkshire buy the chemical company highlights a weakness in Berkshire’s highly decentralized business model.

The situation is likely to overshadow other topics at the meeting. That means discussion about the health of Berkshire’s 80-odd subsidiaries or the merits of the $9 billion Lubrizol deal might be limited.

One topic that is still sure to come up: succession planning. Mr. Sokol was considered a top contender to succeed Mr. Buffett, 80, as CEO.


Guilty plea issued for insider trading

NEW YORK | A hedge fund portfolio manager has pleaded guilty to insider trading charges in a case aimed at curbing criminal behavior among those who peddle secrets as legitimate market research.

Donald Longueuil, 35, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan. He was arrested in a probe that has resulted in a dozen arrests. Prosecutors say there will be more.

The Manhattan resident admitted that he conspired from 2006 to 2010 to help hedge funds learn secrets about technology companies.

He also admitted he disposed of a flash drive and hard drives after learning about investigations into insider trading in November.

Sentencing is set for July 29.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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