FINANCE

George Soros takes 7.9% stake in J.C. Penney

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Giving a much-needed boost to J.C. Penney Co., George Soros’ Soros Fund Management bought 17.4 million shares of the troubled retailer, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The stake, which was seen as a vote of confidence in returning CEO Mike Ullman, makes the billionaire investor the fourth-largest Penney shareholder, with a 7.9% stake.

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FINANCE

Online sales tax bill moves forward in Senate

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to move forward with the Marketplace Fairness Act, legislation that would allow states to force retailers to collect online sales taxes, if the states choose to do so.

“Today’s vote in the Senate is proof that the special treatment of big online businesses at the expense of retailers on Main Street will soon be a thing of the past,” said Bill Hughes, senior VP for government affairs. “The overwhelmingly bipartisan support for leveling the playing field is rare in today’s political environment and paves the way for a level playing field once and for all.”

A final vote on the legislation had been expected this week but was pushed back to the week of May 6.

The bill would extend states’ authority to require retailers to collect tax outside their physical borders, though it would not require states to do so. It would exempt merchants with online annual out-of-state sales of $1 million or less.

The legislation faces opposition in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, where some Republicans view it as a tax increase. Financial firms also voiced opposition against the measure out of concerns it would give states new authority to impose taxes on financial transactions over the Internet.

Supporters of the measure range from Wal-Mart Stores to the National Governors’ Association. Opposition is led by eBay, whose CEO has been encouraging users to oppose the effort.

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FINANCE

Ex-Aeropostale executive found guilty on all 16 counts

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Christopher Finazzo, 57, who was an executive VP and chief merchandising officer at Aeropostale, was found guilty on Thursday of 14 counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the fraud convictions and up to five years for the conspiracy charge.

The jury took less than five hours to reach the verdict, which came after a three-week criminal trial in Brooklyn, N.Y.

All of the counts were related to an alleged multi-million dollar kickback plot. Prosecutors said Finazzo had entered into an illegal deal with Douglas Dey, controlling owner of South Bay Apparel, which was at the time a major clothing supplier for the company.

Under the arrangement, Finazzo purchased more than $350 million in T-shirt and fleece items from South Bay on behalf of the company, the prosecutors said. Aeropostale overpaid for the merchandise and Finazzo and his friend Dey shared the revenue, the government alleges.

In September, Dey, who was also charged, pled guilty to a conspiracy charge, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. He is awaiting sentencing.

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Apr-27-2013 02:46 am

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