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POSTED: Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chevron gains with production

NEW YORK » Chevron Corp., which operates the second-largest refinery in Hawaii, said yesterday it pumped its way through a weak third quarter, producing more oil as prices recovered from a severe plunge earlier in the year.

The nation's second-largest oil and gas producer boosted revenue by increasing oil production by 11 percent. Its average sale price for crude and natural gas liquids over the past three months was $62 per barrel, but well below the $103 it fetched during the same period last year.

The San Ramon, Calif.-based company reported that overall profits dropped 51 percent to $3.83 billion, or $1.92 a share when compared with the same three-month period last year.

Hawaii, others sue Amgen

NEW YORK » Biotechnology behemoth Amgen Inc. is being sued by Hawaii and 14 other states alleging the company gave kickbacks to medical providers to help boost sales of the anemia drug Aranesp.

The New York Attorney General's office says it and the other states allege the Thousand Oaks, Calif., company encouraged medical providers to bill third parties, including Medicaid, for Aranesp, which was available to them at no cost. The lawsuit also alleges that Amgen conspired to offer kickbacks, including nonexistent consultancy deals and weekend retreats, to boost prescriptions of Aranesp.

Feds fine Honolulu lender $97,500

A reverse mortgage lender accused of preying on the elderly has been hit with a maximum $97,500 civil penalty by the Mortgagee Review Board of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HUD said yesterday that the board also wants to permanently withdraw the HUD/Federal Housing Administration approval of the company, Honolulu-based Financial Mortgage USA Inc.

Efforts to reach the company for comment failed because its telephone was disconnected.

The board alleged the company failed to implement an FHA-required quality control plan and separate its lending operations from those of its affiliated insurance company. Financial Mortgage USA is also accused of failing to conform to prudent lending practices and to properly provide borrowers with housing counseling services.

“;FHA will not tolerate lenders who violate our rules and prey on those who depend on a reverse mortgage to continue to live independently,”; FHA Commissioner David Stevens said in a Washington news release.

By failing to maintain a clear and effective separation between its affiliated insurance company, Estate Planners of America, HUD alleged Financial Mortgagee USA confused elderly borrowers who could not tell who they were doing business with.

The companies duped borrowers into purchasing annuities, which borrowers did not request and did not understand had been purchased, HUD said.

Wal-Mart to pay $85M in wage case

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has been ordered by U.S. District Judge Philip M. Pro to pay $85 million to settle 30 lawsuits claiming the company didn't pay employees for all hours worked. The settlement covers cases filed in federal courts in 29 states, including Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, according to court filings.

The suits claimed that Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart violated wage and hours laws by denying workers rest breaks and manipulated time cards to “;shave”; their pay.

The last day for past or current Hawaii Wal-Mart employees to submit a request for a cash payment is Nov. 9. Claim forms are available by calling (800) 677-5163 or by visiting the claim Web site at www.walmartmdl.com.

Hawaii employees have the option of submitting either a Short Claim Form, which provides for an automatic, fixed payment based on the length of their employment, or a Long Claim Form, which provides for a payment based on their length of employment, and their answers to questions regarding their personal work experiences. Claimants using the Short Form will get a standard amount estimated to range between $25 and $150 based upon their length of service. Employees using the Long Form could recover an estimated amount between $50 and $300, depending on length of service and number of incidents claimed.

ON THE MOVE

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Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus has hired Ross Taosaka as director of development. He previously was executive director for the Honolulu Symphony Chorus and practiced law for 21 years as a civil litigator.

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Aqua Hotels and Resorts has promoted Robin Harlow to regional director of sales from director of travel industry sales.

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The American Bar Association's Condemnation Law committee, a part of the state and local government law section, named Robert H. Thomas as chairman. He is director at Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert.