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POSTED: Wednesday, January 13, 2010

SEC files suit against BofA

NEW YORK » Federal regulators sued Bank of America Corp. yesterday, accusing the company of failing to disclose “;staggering financial losses”; at Merrill Lynch before shareholders approved a combination of the companies.

The lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in U.S. District Court in Manhattan sought an order requiring Bank of America to pay a civil penalty for not telling shareholders it was losing $15.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Bank of America spokesman Robert Stickler called the charges “;totally without merit.”; He said the company believes it provided sufficient and appropriate disclosure to shareholders prior to their vote approving the combination.

Google might exit China

SAN FRANCISCO » Google Inc. will stop censoring its search results in China and might pull out of the country completely after discovering that computer hackers had tricked human rights activists into opening their e-mail accounts to outsiders.

The change of heart announced yesterday heralds a major shift for Google, which has repeatedly said it will obey Chinese laws that require some politically and socially sensitive issues to be blocked from search results that are available in other countries.

Google disclosed in a blog post that it had detected a “;highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China.”; Further investigation revealed that “;a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists,”; Google said in the post written by Chief Legal Officer David Drummond.

Google did not specifically accuse the Chinese government. But the company long associated with a motto of “;Don't be evil”; added that it is “;no longer willing to continue censoring our results”; on its Chinese search engine, as the government requires. Google said the decision could force it to shut down its Chinese site and its offices in the country.

It's unclear how much of a blow to its business Google would suffer by pulling out. China has the world's largest population of Internet users, but Google has struggled to expand in the country, where it has less than 30 percent of the search market, versus more than 60 percent for local rival Baidu Inc.

Bankruptcy fears sink JAL stock

TOKYO » Shares in Japan Airlines Corp. nose-dived 81 percent to just 7 yen today as the money-losing airline was expected to file for bankruptcy protection as early as next week.

Investors dumped JAL shares, with the stock dropping 30 yen—the maximum one-day decline allowed in JAL's stock—from yesterday's finish of 37 yen. The Nikkei 225 stock average lost 0.9 percent to 10,781.92 in the morning session.

Japan's top business daily, Nikkei, and the major daily Ashai said Asia's biggest airline was expected to file for bankruptcy protection as early as Tuesday with its shares to be delisted.

“;The reports that JAL shares are to be delisted spooked investors,”; said Yutaka Shiraki, senior strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Co. Ltd. “;Investors continued to sell its shares because they could well become just worthless.”;

Residential construction seminar set

Graham Builders is offering a free educational seminar on the best steps to take for a successful residential construction project on Saturday at the Honolulu Country Club.

Check-in will be at 8:30 a.m. with the seminar to run from 9 to 11 a.m.

Attendees will discover where to start, how to select a builder, what to watch out for and what one needs to know about residential design, setting a budget, estimating, financing and scheduling.

To register, call 306-4407 or go to www.grahambuilders.com.

Nevada casino winnings rise

LAS VEGAS » Nevada casinos' gambling revenue in November rose for the first time in nearly two years, as casinos won nearly $873.2 million from bettors, state regulators said yesterday.

The 4 percent rise in revenue from November 2008 was the first year-over-year increase after 22 months of declines, the Nevada Gaming Control Board said in a report.

Revenues this fiscal year, from July through November, were down 7.9 percent from a year earlier.

ON THE MOVE

; Sacred Hearts Academy has named Andrea Hamilton as director of development. Her experience includes serving the school in various positions, including director of special programs.

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Kennedy Wilson Auction Group has named Joel LaPinta as vice president of business development. He has 26 years of broker and adviser experience.

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John Riggins of John Riggins Real Estate has been named a member of the “;Top 5 in Real Estate Network.”; Members of the network are selected and managed by RISMedia, and Riggins is among the first real estate agents to be accepted into this organization.