A Federal Way-based payday lender and four employees have agreed to pay more than $85,000 in fines to settle charges that the company used unreasonable tactics to collect past-due loans.

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A Federal Way-based payday lender and four employees have agreed to pay more than $85,000 in fines to settle charges that the company used unreasonable tactics to collect past-due loans.



Fast Cash Loans paid a fine of $50,000 to the state and is paying more than $4,300 in restitution to nearly 300 Washington consumers, the Department of Financial Institutions said yesterday.



The company’s former CEO, Jonathan Blake Goldberg, also was fined $30,000 and is banned from the payday-lending industry in Washington for two years. He can reduce the ban by one year by paying an additional $10,000 fine. He is prohibited from administrating collection activities in the state for three years.



Three other employees, who were not banned from the business, paid fines of $500 to $750 each. No party admitted wrongdoing in the settlement.



In a telephone interview, Goldberg said, “I had to take responsibility for the actions of my employees to put this matter behind us and move forward.”



The company also paid more than $21,000 to reimburse the department for the costs of the investigation.



Microsoft



Patch issued for software weakness



Microsoft is attempting to plug a glaring hole in some versions of its Windows software, a weakness similar to those exploited by the devastating “Blaster” and “Sasser” attacks, a security expert said yesterday.



The patch, included in the company’s monthly security bulletin, fixes a hole that could allow hackers to take complete control of computer systems, Microsoft said.



The problem is most serious on Windows 2000 systems, which could be accessed remotely through the operating system’s “Plug and Play” hardware-detection feature.



Marc Maiffret, chief hacking officer for eEye Digital Security, said the hole resembled weaknesses that allowed the Blaster and Sasser worms to infect hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide.



In its security briefing, Microsoft said it had no indication the vulnerability had been publicly disclosed or exploited before the patch was issued.


Waddell & Reed



400 state investors to get settlement



About 400 Washington investors will receive approximately $700,000 from the Kansas-based brokerage Waddell & Reed as part of a multistate settlement.



The company, which did not admit any wrongdoing, will also pay a fine of more than $95,000 to the state, according to the Department of Financial Institutions and the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.



The brokerage was accused of illegally exchanging thousands of variable annuity contracts issued by one company for another company’s product without making sure the new product was suitable for all its investors.



Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and The Associated Press



Nation/World



Charter Communications



Ex-Time Warner official named CEO



Charter Communications has turned to an executive from rival cable-TV operator Time Warner for its new chief executive.



The suburban St. Louis company yesterday named Neil Smit as president and CEO. He replaces Robert May, who was named interim president and CEO in January when Carl Vogel resigned with about a year remaining on his contract.



May will remain on the board and the company’s strategic-planning committee.



Smit, 46, will also serve on the board of Charter, which is controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.



Smit most recently was president of Time Warner’s $5 billion, 21 million-member America Online Access Business, where he was responsible for AOL, CompuServe and Netscape ISP.



“Neil is a proven, talented executive with the right combination of operational, marketing and customer-service skills to lead Charter to the next level,” Allen said.


Sprint / Nextel



Acquisition to be wrapped up Friday



Sprint said yesterday it will complete its acquisition of Nextel Communications on Friday and begin trading as a unified stock Monday.



Sprint and Nextel will merge to become the third-largest wireless provider in the country, providing an equal competitor to industry leaders Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless.



The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department signed off on the consolidation last week with very few conditions, saying there was adequate competition to keep the company from dominating the markets it is in.



Shareholders for both companies have approved the deal.



Compiled from The Associated Press