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US stock market daily report (December 04, 2013, Wednesday)
In a court filing by a patients attorney in West Virginia on December 2, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ-NYSE) officials of J&J’s Ethicon unit, makers of Gynecare Prolift implant, lost or disposed of potentially hundreds of thousands of documents over a decade even though they were ordered by executives to preserve them.
According to the filing by a patients attorney, “Ethicon’s document destruction has severely prejudiced the plaintiffs for the upcoming bellwether trials. Defendants should not benefit from the gaps in plaintiffs’ story that defendant created.” Ethicon spokesman Matthew Johnson, said the company had “an appropriate process” for retaining documents and has turned over millions of pages of material to plaintiffs’ lawyers. “We have never intentionally destroyed, withheld or failed to produce relevant documents,” Johnson said in an e-mailed statement. Johnson said the plaintiffs weren’t “prejudiced by any isolated instances where documents may have inadvertently not been maintained.” Ethicon “admitted that it destroyed all documents” that J&J unit’s former president, Renee Selman, had on her computer’s hard drive, according to the filing.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys said in the 26-page filing, “The proverbial slap on the hand is not enough.” Per the attorney, J&J should be barred from seeking to throw out suits because they were filed beyond legal deadlines or using other defenses at trial.
Fifth Third Bancorp Charged by SEC
Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB-NASDAQ) and former CFO Daniel Poston were charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, with improper accounting of commercial real estate loans in the midst of the financial crisis. According to the SEC, the pair are accused of improper accounting on the sale of large pools of troubled loans which misled investors "during a time of significant upheaval and financial distress for the company." To settle the charges, Fifth Third has agreed to pay fine to the tune of $6.5 million. Poston has agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty plus, has been suspended from practicing as an accountant on behalf of any publicly traded company or any firm regulated by the SEC.
European Union Fines Banks $2 Billion
European Union has fined eight of the worlds largest banks more than $2 billion, over alleged manipulation of key benchmark interest rates. The fines were levied against Deutsche Bank AG (DB-NYSE), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM-NYSE) and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (RBS-NYSE).
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