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Judge gives early okay on Ebbers' deal

By Times Staff
Published July 12, 2005

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote gave preliminary approval Monday to a settlement under which former WorldCom chief Bernard Ebbers will forfeit nearly all his cash and personal assets - as much as $45-million. The action in New York came two days before Ebbers, 63, faces sentencing on his criminal conviction in the WorldCom fraud. The civil settlement will leave a modest Mississippi home for Ebbers' wife and roughly $50,000 for her to live on. Ebbers will turn over nearly everything he owns to a trust that will sell the assets for an expected $25-million to $40-million. Ebbers must also pay more than $5-million cash up front. Left for Ebbers' wife and family will be a much smaller home in Jackson, Miss., plus oil and gas assets and a retirement account that were described by lawyers in the case as very modest.

Oil prices drop below $59 after hurricane

Oil prices fell below $59 a barrel Monday after Hurricane Dennis spared oil production and refining facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, saving the market from a major supply disruption. Evidence that the growth rate of China's oil demand is slowing also contributed to the downward momentum. It was the third straight trading session in which oil prices fell since Wednesday's record closing above $61 a barrel. Light sweet crude for August delivery declined by 71 cents to settle at $58.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

WellPoint to settle suits for $198-million

WellPoint Inc., the nation's biggest publicly traded health insurer, said Monday it will pay up to $198-million to settle two class-action lawsuits brought by representatives of more than 700,000 doctors over alleged unfair payment practices. As part of the settlement, the Indianapolis-based company said it has agreed to pay $135-million to doctors and contribute $5-million to a nonprofit foundation aimed at improving health care for the disadvantaged. It also said it would pay legal fees of up to $58-million. The physicians say they have been cheated by insurance companies that programmed computers to pay for less intensive services than were actually provided.

Jury selection begins in Vioxx trial

About 120 potential jurors filled out questionnaires Monday in Angleton, Texas, as jury selection began in the nation's first Vioxx-related lawsuit to go to trial. The lawsuit is the first of more than 3,800 state and federal lawsuits pending against New Jersey-based Merck & Co. over the popular painkiller the company took off the market last September after research showed it could double risk of heart attack or stroke.

T-bill rates mixed

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills were mixed in Monday's auction, with rates on three-month bills declining and rates on six-month bills rising to the highest level since July 2001. The Treasury Department auctioned $17-billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 3.135 percent, down from 3.145 percent last week. Another $15-billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 3.355 percent, up from 3.325 percent last week.

[Last modified July 12, 2005, 09:35:29]

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