Business Briefs: Expanded help for U.S. jobless wins revival

Thousands of unemployed people in Washington state who saw their benefits lapse at the end of November will see the program revive. A federal unemployment program that expired has been reauthorized by Congress and the president, offering up to 99 weeks of benefits. The program offers 26 weeks of regular benefits, and more time of emergency and extended benefits. When the program lapsed, people in one stage of the program couldn’t move to the next. The action Friday revives the steps but doesn’t expand the total of weeks of available help. “This is welcome news for unemployed workers who are having a hard time finding a job,” said Joel Sacks of the state’s Employment Security Department.

Arizona sues BOA for alleged fraud

Bank of America Corp. violated Arizona’s consumer fraud law by misleading consumers who tried to reduce their mortgage payments so they could keep their homes, state Attorney General Terry Goddard said Friday as he filed a civil lawsuit against the bank. The bank also violated the terms of a 2009 consent agreement requiring the bank’s Countrywide mortgage subsidiary to implement a loan modification program, the lawsuit alleges. Hundreds of homeowners kept making their mortgage payments because Bank of America repeatedly assured them their loan was being modified, he said. Instead, many lost their homes anyway.

Many airlines late for maintenance

A government report said a federal program aimed at identifying the most critical aircraft maintenance risks routinely misses deadlines. The report said the Federal Aviation Administration inspection program’s weaknesses are undermining its effectiveness and could lessen the agency’s ability to oversee the National Airspace System if not addressed. The report is based on a three-year investigation by the Department of Transportation’s inspector general. It said aircraft inspections are sometimes delayed for years or misdirected to less significant maintenance areas while more risky areas go uninspected.

Regulators broaden HP kickback probe

The U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are expanding their probe into possible kickbacks on the part of computer maker Hewlett Packard Co., a regulatory filing said. The agencies have already been investigating the Palo Alto, Calif., company for possibly bribing authorities in Russia and Germany. Now, the agencies are also investigating similar improprieties in Austria, Serbia, the Netherlands and the Commonwealth of Independent States. According to this round of allegations, local HP employees may have paid kickbacks to government officials, private organizations and channel partners who distributed HP’s products. The bribes are said to date back 10 years. No charges have been filed.

From Herald news services