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CLASS ACTION Brokerage firm settles dubious practices suits ST. LOUIS (AP)-Edward D. Jones & Co. has signed a tentative $127 million settlement in nine class actions involving questionable revenue-sharing and sales practices from 2004, the brokerage firm has announced. The St. Louis-based company would return $55 million in cash to customers and cover legal fees. It would also provide $72.5 million in noncash vouchers to current clients over three years. In December 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission found that the company created a conflict of interest by failing to disclose to its customers a revenue-sharing deal with mutual fund companies. The firm had revenue-sharing deals with seven mutual fund companies. H&R Block will pay $39M over refund loans CHICAGO (AP)-An Illinois federal judge has approved a $39 million settlement in a long-running class action against H&R Block Inc. by customers who claimed that they had paid too much for refund anticipation loans. The loans were part of a program under which customers who had their taxes prepared by Block were offered their refunds immediately in return for a fee. The suit said the refunds amounted to loans and cost too much. CONSUMER PROTECTION Drugmaker settles probe for $435M, guilty plea TRENTON, N.J. (AP)-Drugmaker Schering-Plough Corp. has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and to pay $435 million in criminal and civil fines so as to end a federal probe into the marketing of some drugs for unapproved uses and its overcharging Medicaid for certain drugs. Under the agreement, Kenilworth, N.J.-based Schering-Plough will pay $255 million to resolve civil aspects of the probe. A subsidiary, Schering Sales Corp., will pay a criminal fine of $180 million and plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to make false statements to the government, related to its marketing of a brain cancer drug. Investigators said that Schering-Plough marketed drugs for “off-label” uses for which they were not approved by government regulators. One such drug was Temodar, which the Food and Drug Administration approved in 1999 to treat one type of brain tumor. Schering promoted the drug to treat other types of brain cancers without the FDA’s approval. REGULATORY ACTION Prudential pays $600M to settle deception probe WASHINGTON (AP)-Prudential Financial Inc. and a subsidiary have agreed to pay $600 million to resolve allegations of deceptive market timing in the trading of mutual funds, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced. Prudential’s brokerage subsidiary, Prudential Equity Group LLC (PEG), admitted to criminal wrongdoing from 1999 until September 2003 and agreed to pay the $600 million. Brokers at PEG or its predecessor, Prudential Securities Inc., generated $57 million worth of commissions and more than $100 million in illicit profits for their clients during 2001-2003. Market timing is the use of computerized trades late in the day to move money in and out of funds quickly, taking advantage of different closing times for markets around the world. TELEVISION Satellite TV provider settles with networks DENVER (AP)-Satellite television provider EchoStar Communications Corp. has said that it has reached a $100 million settlement with affiliate associations of three major networks over distant-programming service but has been unable to resolve differences with the Fox Network. The agreement could end a nine-year lawsuit over the Dish Network operator’s practice of selling programming from ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox stations that originates in one market to subscribers who live in a different city. It still must be approved by a judge in Florida, where the suit is pending. EchoStar said it will pay the affiliate associations $100 million to protect subscribers from the shutoff of distant channels and expand the number of markets in which it offers local network services from 165 to 175 by the end of the year. The over-the-air networks had alleged that EchoStar’s practice violated a federal law outlining how satellite TV companies can provide service. EchoStar previously settled with ABC, NBC and CBS. WAGES AND HOURS Casual dockworkers get $12.9M for unpaid wages LOS ANGELES (AP)-West Coast marine terminal operators have agreed to pay $12.9 million to settle a class action brought by longshore workers over unpaid wages. The case stems from a 2003 lawsuit filed by dockworker Mark Wisniewski against the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents marine terminal operators. The suit claimed that the terminal operators were shortchanging pay from so-called casual, or temporary, dockworkers either by docking them time worked or not paying them for travel time to work as required by law. The settlement covers California dockworkers employed as casual workers-not full-time, union-covered longshore workers-between April 1999 and June 16, 2006.

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