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    Overshadowing the futuristic technology on display at this year's Tokyo Motor Show is the downfall of Nissan's former Chairman Carlos Ghosn. Since Ghosn's arrest for alleged financial misconduct in November 2018, Nissan has sunk into deep losses and its global vehicle sales have tumbled. At a presentation to reporters Wednesday, two senior Nissan executives talked up electric vehicles featured at Nissan Motor Co.'s booth. The show gives automakers a chance to showcase some of the industry's upcoming mobility technology, including ecological fuel cells and personal transport devices that look like scooters. Ghosn, who says he is innocent, spearheaded such innovations during his two decades at Nissan's helm. The company's newly named CEO, Makoto Uchida, and his predecessor Hiroto Saikawa, who resigned last month over his own financial scandals, did not make appearances at the media presentation. Instead two senior executives, in charge of research and of design, introduced two concept model electric vehicles. One was a sport-utility and the other a tiny car, known as 'kei' in Japan, that they said would become commercial products soon. Nissan pioneered electric vehicles, leading the industry with its Leaf sedan, said Kunio Nakaguro, executive vice president in charge of research and development. Nissan has sold 430,000 Leafs. Running on a loop on huge screens at Nissan's booth was was a video of tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, who has signed to promote Nissan. 'Exactly a year ago, an upset of the century,' it said, referring to Osaka's Grand Slam win. On the minds of those watching was the year of upsets at Nissan, which has appeared rudderless at times after Ghosn's departure. Ghosn was released on bail after a dramatic months' long struggle with prosecutors who insisted he should stay in detention. He is awaiting trial, likely not until next year, for allegedly falsifying financial documents to hide future compensation and for breach of trust for making dubious payments to businessmen for personal gain, according to Tokyo prosecutors. In statements and comments on videotape, Ghosn has insisted that other Nissan executives plotted against him out of fears the company might lose some of its autonomy in a merger fears among some at Nissan of a fuller merger with its French alliance partner Renault SA. Even before Ghosn's arrest, the company was grappling with scandals over quality control that have plagued many automakers in Japan. Nissan's reshuffling of its top leadership and measures to strengthen its governance should have come earlier, analysts say. Such serious problems send negative signals to managers and employees throughout a company, and enable cover-ups that result in poorer quality products, undermining profits in a competitive market, said Cindy Schipani, a professor of business law and governance expert at the University of Michigan. 'The bottom line is that corporate governance requires leadership with integrity. Otherwise, they could send the company into a downward spiral,' Schipani said. Nissan announced earlier this year that it's slashing 12,500 jobs, or about 9% of its global workforce, to cut costs and achieve a turnaround amid tumbling profits. ___ Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama On Instagram https://www.instagram.com/yurikageyama/?hl=en
  • Two employees of a San Francisco Bay Area solar energy company pleaded guilty Tuesday to participating in what federal prosecutors say was a massive scheme that defrauded investors of $1 billion. While the company's owners have not been charged, they agreed to let the government auction their collection of 150 classic, performance and luxury vehicles, including a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am once owned by Burt Reynolds. The replica of the car the late actor drove in 'Smokey and the Bandit' and the other vehicles are to be auctioned Saturday, with online bidding already pushing the accumulated value past $5.5 million. Bidding on that Trans Am alone had topped $65,000 by late Tuesday. The auction company said it had been driven less than 3,400 miles (5,472 kilometers). It's the largest single-owner car collection ever auctioned by the U.S. Marshals Service. Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Lasha Boyden of the Sacramento office called it 'a stunning collection of vehicles' that also includes classic 1960s Ford Mustangs, 1990s Humvees and a 1960 Austin-Healey. Pleading guilty Tuesday were certified public accountant Ronald Roach, 53, and general contractor Joseph Bayliss, 44, both of the Bay Area. Roach's attorney, Christian Picone, declined comment. Bayliss' attorney, Tom Johnson, did not return a telephone message seeking comment. Both men agreed to cooperate in the ongoing investigation. The two men admitted providing false reports that misled investors of DC Solar, owned by Jeffrey and Paulette Carpoff of Martinez. The owners have not been charged with any crime, said Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento, but their vehicles and numerous other assets were seized by the federal government as part of the investigation. The owners agreed to allow the vehicles to be auctioned off because it is expensive to store them and they lose value the longer they sit idle, Horwood said. The auction proceeds will go back to the owners if they are never convicted, but the proceeds will go to the victims if they are convicted and forfeit their belongings. The Carpoffs' attorney, Malcolm Segal, said the couple have been cooperating with prosecutors. 'Mr. and Mrs. Carpoff have authorized the government to sell well over $75 million of their personal real estate, automobiles and other assets in the interest of the investors who may come up short when in time things settle,' Segal said. Prosecutors alleged that the company engaged in $2.5 billion in investment transactions between 2011 and 2018, costing investors $1 billion in a classic Ponzi scheme. The company based in Benicia, northeast of San Francisco, made solar generators mounted on trailers and marketed them as able to provide emergency power for cellphone companies or to provide lighting at sporting and other events. However, purportedly to improve tax benefits, the investors never actually took possession of the generators, authorities said. Instead, they would lease the generators back to DC Solar, which would then provide them to other companies for their use. 'The investors, all national and internationally known companies, have to date greatly benefited by being able to claim financially significant tax and depreciation credits since making their investments,' Segal said. Authorities said the investors were supposed to be paid with the profits, but the generators never provided much income. Instead, prosecutors say early investors were paid with funds from later investors. Roach, of Walnut Creek, admitted preparing financial documents to hide the pyramid scheme, and faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in January. He also pleaded guilty to securities violations. Bayliss, of Martinez, admitted to preparing false reports showing thousands of solar generators that were sold to investors on paper but in fact did not exist. He also admitted flying to Las Vegas to destroy evidence after federal investigators served search warrants at the company's headquarters and other locations in December. He faces up to five years in prison.
  • Exxon Mobil says it has prepared itself for the impact climate change regulations will have on its finances, denying allegations from New York's attorney general that the energy giant has deceived the public about how stricter emissions rules will affect its business. Attorney Ted Wells said in a trial that began Tuesday that former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson created a robust, effective system to account for increasing climate regulations in 2007. The state has accused Exxon Mobil Corp., which is based in Irving, Texas, of misleading investors about its financial health as governments impose stricter regulations to combat global warming. 'Exxon Mobil did nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing wrong,' Wells said. 'The evidence will show that the allegations in the complaint are bizarre and twisted and not connected to the reality of the truth.' Exxon has not always applied the appropriate regulation costs when estimating the increasing price of climate rules on its carbon-intensive business, said Kevin Wallace, an attorney arguing for New York's Attorney General Letitia James. In some cases, Exxon used existing local regulations to calculate the cost of new projects, when it should have assumed regulations would become stricter, and more costly, over time, Wallace said. 'The company failed to manage the risks in the ways it promised,' Wallace said. 'The cost of that failure is staggering.' Wallace asked for a comprehensive review and $476 million to $1.6 billion in damages to shareholders. 'Having been misled on these issues, investors are entitled to an accurate picture,' Wallace said. Wells countered that Exxon has two distinct ways of accounting for increasingly strict climate regulations. One metric, called 'proxy costs,' deals with the demand side of Exxon's business, and attempts to predict how demand for oil and gas may decrease around the world due to regulations. Another measure, known as 'GHG costs,' or greenhouse gas costs, measures how local regulators may tax, for example, emissions from a refinery. Exxon examines those costs, where appropriate, when it evaluates new projects, to determine the project's viability, Wells said. 'This notion that we would be using lower costs than are appropriate, it makes no sense,' Wells said. 'We would not be in the business of cheating ourselves.' Wells also said the state's planned witnesses could not have been materially harmed as they claimed, because they were not making investment decisions.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper has removed himself from decision-making on a cloud computing contract potentially worth $10 billion, citing his son's employment with one of the original contract bidders. In a written statement Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Esper recused himself from decisions on the so-called JEDI contract 'out of an abundance of caution to avoid any concerns regarding his impartiality.' The Pentagon is in the final stages of determining the winner of the initial $1 million Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, contract, which could be worth as much as $10 billion over 10 years if all options are exercised. Hoffman did not identify Esper's son by name. His son Luke is identified on his Linked-In page as a 'digital strategy consultant' at IBM, which was an original bidder for the JEDI contract. IBM was dropped from the competition, along with Oracle, and both companies have complained that the contracting process is rigged in favor of Amazon Web Services Inc., a division of Amazon. Amazon and Microsoft Corp. are finalists for the contract. A U.S. Federal Claims Court judge last summer ruled in favor of the Pentagon's assertion that the contracting process has been fair. In August, the Pentagon's independent auditor disclosed that it was conducting a broad review of the handling of the project. The probe includes an investigation of potential misconduct by current or former Defense Department officials involved in the project. Hoffman said Esper was not legally required to recuse himself, but did so after receiving what Hoffman called informational briefings on the JEDI contract. Esper delegated decision-making responsibility on the JEDI program to Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, Hoffman said.
  • Football and mayhem in Chicago, unrelated to the NFL's Bears, dominated the top of the television rankings last week. While NBC's Sunday night football game was the most-watched program of the week, producer Dick Wolf's trio of Windy City-set dramas all finished among the Nielsen company's list of the top television programs. 'Chicago Med,' ''Chicago PD' and 'Chicago Fire' were all seen by more than 8 million viewers. That led NBC to victory in the weekly ratings race. Fox, with a Thursday night football game between Kansas City and Denver, finished second. Since Nielsen's weekly list measures only same-day viewership, the top of the rankings is dominated by live sports and competition shows like 'The Voice' and 'The Masked Singer.' ''NCIS' remains the top scripted program. CNN's coverage of the latest Democratic presidential debate was seen by 8.6 million viewers, Nielsen said. NBC averaged 7 million viewers for the week, with runner-up Fox grabbing 6.1 million. CBS had 5.7 million, ABC had 4.3 million, Telemundo had 1.4 million, Univision had 1.3 million, ION Television had 1.2 million and the CW had 860,000. ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.82 million viewers. Fox News Channel had 2.6 million, CNN had 1.96 million, TBS had 1.8 million and MSNBC had 1.79 million. ABC's 'World News Tonight' topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.2 million viewers. NBC's 'Nightly News' was second with 7.4 million and the 'CBS Evening News' had 5.2 million viewers. For the week of Oct. 14-20, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Philadelphia at Dallas, NBC, 21.45 million; 'NFL Pregame Show,' NBC, 16.28 million; NFL Football: Kansas City at Denver, Fox, 14.02 million; NFL Football: Detroit at Green Bay, ESPN, 14 million; 'NFL Postgame Show,' Fox, 11.97 million; 'NCIS,' CBS, 10.88 million; 'Football Night in America,' NBC, 10.36 million; 'Chicago Med,' NBC, 8.94 million; 'FBI,' CBS, 8.76 million; 'Chicago PD,' NBC, 8.63 million. ___ ABC and ESPN are owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by Fox Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. ___ Online: http://www.nielsen.com
  • Nike said Tuesday that its longtime CEO Mark Parker is stepping down early next year. He will be replaced by board member John Donahoe, who formerly ran e-commerce company eBay. Parker will become executive chairman of the board. Nike's sales have been on the rise as the company focuses on selling more of its swoosh-branded sneakers online and on its apps. The company's first quarter earnings last month soared past expectations. But Nike has also been plagued by scandals recently. Three weeks ago, renowned track coach Alberto Salazar was banned from the sport for four years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for running experiments with supplements and testosterone that were bankrolled and supported by Nike, along with possessing and trafficking testosterone. Nike announced that it was shutting down its elite Oregon Project track and field program overseen by Salazar in the wake of the scandal. Parker said in a TV interview with CNBC Tuesday that the scandal had 'absolutely nothing' with him leaving the top job and that succession plans have been months in the making. 'This is not something that happens in a matter of weeks,' he said. Last year, allegations of misconduct and gender discrimination led to a leadership shakeup at the company. And earlier this spring, Nike announced changes to its contract policies after the New York Times published opinion articles and videos from female runners saying they risked losing pay if they became pregnant. Parker, who joined the company in 1979 as a footwear designer, has been CEO since 2006. In 2017, he took a 70% compensation cut after a rough year for U.S. sales and the company's stock price. The Beaverton, Oregon-based sneaker seller said Donahue will step in as CEO on Jan. 13. Donahoe is the current president and CEO of ServiceNow, an information technology and software company. 'He really clicks a lot of the boxes that we're looking for,' Parker said in the TV interview. Nike's rival Under Armour will also have a new leader in the new year. On the same day Nike made its announcement, Under Armour said founder Kevin Plank will step aside as CEO in January and be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Patrik Frisk. ____ AP Business Writer Alexandra Olson in New York also contributed to this story.
  • Boeing is replacing the head of its commercial-airplanes division as it struggles with a crisis created by two deadly crashes of its newest airliner. Boeing said Tuesday that Kevin McAllister is out as chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He is being replaced by Stanley Deal, leader of Boeing's services division. The shake-up in Boeing's top ranks comes just days after the release of internal communications that showed a senior test pilot experienced serious problems while testing flight-control software for the 737 Max on a simulator. That software, called MCAS, is at the center of investigations into two crashes that killed 346 people and led to grounding of the Max. Boeing is taking much longer than executives expected to change the software and get the plane flying again. Boeing announced two other promotions, including a replacement for Deal, who has led Boeing Global Services since the division was created in 2016. McAllister was recruited from General Electric Co.'s jet-engine operation to run Boeing's biggest division in 2016, just months before the 737 Max went into service. Boeing did not specify whether he quit or was fired. 'The Boeing board fully supports these leadership moves,' Chairman David Calhoun said in a prepared statement. Calhoun himself is new in his position. CEO Dennis Muilenburg also served as company chairman until the board stripped him of that job and elevated Calhoun two weeks ago. In a statement, Muilenburg thanked McAllister for his service 'during a challenging time, and for his commitment to support this transition.' Boeing took a $5.6 billion pretax charge this summer to cover its estimate for compensating airlines that have canceled thousands of flights because of grounded planes. It has disclosed nearly $3 billion in other additional costs related to the grounding. The company faces dozens of lawsuits by families of passengers killed in the Max crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. It is also the subject of investigations by the Justice Department and Congress. Chicago-based Boeing Co. is scheduled to report its latest financial results on Wednesday.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg aims to reassure Congress on Wednesday that his company won't try to evade financial regulators as it prepares its planned digital currency Libra. In prepared remarks released Tuesday ahead of a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, Zuckerberg says that Facebook 'will not be a part of launching the Libra payments system anywhere in the world unless all U.S. regulators approve it.' That's a stronger statement than Facebook official David Marcus made in July , when he said the company will not offer Libra until it has 'fully addressed regulatory concerns and received appropriate approvals.' Marcus leads the Libra project at Facebook. Zuckerberg is trying to defend Libra and alleviate concerns that the currency could sidestep regulators. Analysts say Libra could avoid regulation and launch in countries where it's not receiving pushback, but this does not appear to be Facebook's intention. Instead, Zuckerberg is pushing an optimistic vision of Libra and what it could mean for people around the world who don't have access to bank accounts. 'The financial industry is stagnant and there is no digital financial architecture to support the innovation we need,' his statement reads. 'I believe this problem can be solved, and Libra can help.' Libra has seen several high-profile defections among other companies that originally supported it, including Visa and MasterCard. While some critics see those departures as evidence of Libra's likely failure, U.S. regulators appear to view it as enough of threat that they are considering the possibility of the Federal Reserve launching its own competitor currency. 'At the Federal Reserve, we will continue to analyze the potential benefits and costs of central bank digital currencies, and look forward to learning from other central banks,' Fed Gov. Lael Brainard said in a speech last week. Zuckerberg's remarks also play the China card, urging regulators to act quickly. 'While we debate these issues, the rest of the world isn't waiting. China is moving quickly to launch similar ideas in the coming months,' Zuckerberg says in the statement. Marcus made a similar argument over the summer. In 2018, when Zuckerberg spent two days testifying before Congress on privacy, competition and a host of other issues, his notes cited competition from China as a reason against breaking up Facebook. __ Associated Press Writer Marcy Gordon in Washington contributed to this story.
  • Facebook's latest foes: nearly every U.S. state. A state-level antitrust investigation into the social networking giant now has the backing of a bipartisan group of 47 attorneys general, New York Attorney General Letitia James said Tuesday. The Democrat launched the probe last month with seven other states and the District of Columbia. It focuses on whether Facebook's dominance is stifling competition, limiting choice for consumers and costing advertisers more money. 'Big Tech must account for its actions,' Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, said in a statement. The group of attorneys general also worries about Facebook's handling of customer data, James said. That drew scrutiny after firms were able to harvest information in attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Facebook didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment. The group backing the state-level probe by the seven states and Washington now includes 21 Democratic attorneys general, 18 Republicans and an independent from 39 states and Guam. The list also includes several states that cannot confirm their participation in pending investigations, James said. Facebook and other tech giants have also been feeling the heat from federal regulators. The Federal Trade Commission recently fined Facebook $5 billion for privacy violations, but consumer advocates and some public officials criticized that as too lenient. A separate investigation, led by Texas and supported by attorneys general from 48 states, Puerto Rico and Washington is looking at whether Google is engaging in monopolistic behavior with its dominant online search and advertising business. District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, a Democrat involved in both investigations, said in a statement that he wants to ensure Facebook is 'giving a fair shake' to the American people. 'No company gets a pass if it throttles competitors and exploits consumers,' Racine said.
  • If they can close our plant, they can close yours, too. That's the message from workers at three shuttered General Motors factories that didn't get new products under the tentative contract agreement reached last week between GM and the United Auto Workers, who have been on strike against the company across the U.S. for over six weeks now. About 2,000 employees who once worked at GM transmission plants near Baltimore and Detroit and a small-car assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, will repeat that message this week as 49,000 union members vote on the new four-year deal. Approval could end the walkout that has crippled GM's production and cost the company an estimated $2 billion. Most of the workers who lost their jobs at the three sites are scattered across the country after transferring to other GM factories, so they have a presence at just about all of the automaker's plants. But few are holding out hope they can torpedo the contract, which comes with an $11,000 signing bonus, pay raises and plenty of other economic goodies for the factories that are staying open. John Sandquist Jr., who spent 25 years building cars at Lordstown near Cleveland, said he is not optimistic he will change other people's minds, but he will vote against the pact. 'Your plant can be shut down at any time,' Sandquist said. 'What the contract is lacking is the language to prevent this from happening again.' Like many of the 1,400 workers who built the compact Chevrolet Cruze before GM stopped making the cars at Lordstown last March, Sandquist took a transfer. He wound up in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where after the strike ends he will make the new mid-engine Chevy Corvette. He questioned why union leaders agreed to let GM close the factories, wondering if corruption inside the UAW influenced the decision to side with the company. 'We were the sacrificial lamb in this one for the whole of the UAW,' Sandquist said. 'And we got screwed.' In August, the FBI raided the suburban Detroit home of UAW President Gary Jones as part of a corruption probe. He has not been charged and has not commented on the raid. Earlier this month, Jones' successor as union regional director in Missouri was charged in a $600,000 embezzlement scheme. Ten other people — including six current or former UAW officials — have pleaded guilty in the probe over the past two years. The latest guilty plea came Tuesday. At a meeting of factory-level union leaders in Detroit last week, Dan Morgan, bargaining chairman for the local in Lordstown, made a plea to vote the contract down, saying they should stay on strike until GM keeps the plants open. Union spokesman Brian Rothenberg said bargainers did the best they could, getting the company to agree to early retirement and buyout offers for workers from the closed factories who didn't move to other GM plants. Kristin Dziczek, vice president of labor and manufacturing at the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank, said she doesn't think there are enough workers from the closed plants to influence the others and get the deal voted down. 'This is like gerrymandering,' she said. 'They're spread throughout the system.' Also, she said, it will be difficult to overcome the economic benefits of the contract, which brings workers hired after 2007 up to the same pay as older workers in four years or less, gives temporary workers a path to becoming full time, gives workers lump-sum payments and lifts the $12,000 cap on profit-sharing checks. So far, a large assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, narrowly voted down the contract. But locals in Toledo, Ohio, at GM's technical center in Warren, Michigan, and at a metal stamping facility in Saginaw, Michigan, voted overwhelmingly in favor. Voting wraps up on Friday, with the final tally to be released that evening. As of Tuesday, the deal was winning by more than 1,000 votes. At Spring Hill, which has a large number of people who transferred from Lordstown, the plant closings were among many reasons that workers gave for voting down the contract 51% to 49%, said Mike Herron, union bargaining chairman at the plant. They were also unhappy with the provisions that make temporary employees full time after three years of continuous service, and they objected to a cap of 2,000 workers who would get early retirement packages, Herron said. The GM contract will serve as a template for negotiations with Ford and Fiat Chrysler. The union will probably pick the next company once the GM contract is ratified. Under the deal, GM agreed to invest about $7.7 billion in its factories, creating or keeping 9,000 jobs. It also extended a moratorium on outsourcing work, but it doesn't apply to GM joint ventures with other companies. Of the $7.7 billion, $3 billion will go to GM's Detroit Hamtramck plant, which will make several high-end battery-powered pickup trucks and SUVs. One under consideration is a Hummer. A total of $1.5 billion will go to a factory in Wentzville, Missouri, to make pickups. A factory near Lansing, Michigan, will split $1 billion with the plant in Spring Hill, where the company will turn out SUVs. And $2 billion will go to refurbish other plants. Critics complain the contract doesn't bring back any products from Mexico, which the union had sought.