In other items: Two promoted to take Oppenheimer's role at Washington Mutual; Nautilus treasurer to replace CFO who resigned; and state order closes payday lender Expressit.

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Washington state regulators approved a $7.8 million penalty against Qwest yesterday for the company’s failure to file business contracts with rival carriers that use Qwest’s phone network.

A settlement was agreed to last November by Qwest, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) and the Attorney General’s Office.

The penalty was the largest ever assessed by the agency. The original WUTC complaint alleged Qwest failed to file with the agency, as required by federal law, some contracts with other local telephone carriers using the company’s network from 1999 to 2002. It also alleged that Qwest violated state anti-discrimination laws by offering discounts to some companies but not others.

Washington Mutual

2 promoted to take Oppenheimer’s role

Washington Mutual has promoted two executives to lead its retail bank, a spot left open when Deanna Oppenheimer announced her surprise departure in January. Her official last day is today.

Oppenheimer’s position as president of retail operations will be shared by Michael Amato, who had been executive vice president of retail banking distribution, and Ken Kido, who was executive vice president of banking products and operations. They will report to Stephen Rotella, who was hired in December as WaMu’s president and chief operating officer.

The nation’s largest thrift is searching for a new head of its home-loan business, which has been run by Craig Chapman, who will focus on his role as president of the bank’s commercial business.

WaMu also recently hired three new senior officers for its mortgage unit, all from J.P. Morgan Chase, Rotella’s former employer.


Treasurer to replace CFO who resigned

Rod Rice, Nautilus’ chief financial officer, will resign at the end of the month, the company said yesterday.

Rice, who has worked at the fitness-machine maker for 11 years, will be replaced by William Meadowcroft.

Meadowcroft has been Nautilus’ treasurer, principal accounting officer and corporate controller since he joined the Vancouver company in 2000.

Nautilus shares closed 16 cents higher at $22.16 in trading yesterday.


State order closes payday lender

Regulators issued a temporary cease-and-desist order last week to Expressit, a payday lender in Lacey, Thurston County.

The Washington Department of Financial Institutions said it thinks Expressit and its owners, Carl and Elaine Ehresman, provided small loans and check-cashing services without a license. The department alleges that Expressit made loans and charged fees in excess of the legal limit.

The owners are entitled to a hearing to determine whether the order will become permanent. Their lawyer, David Bukey, said they do not know yet whether they will request a hearing, but that they have cooperated with the state in providing records and will continue to do so.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and Bloomberg News