Business & Finance

Troubled energy firm El Paso lost $394 million in the first quarter and said it will eliminate four of its 10 senior executive posts to lower operating costs. The company's woes are part of a wider downturn in the industry due to a weak market and fallout from the Enron debacle, the Financial Times reported. The Williams Companies of Tulsa, Okla., and Calpine Corp. of San Jose, Calif., also posted first-quarter losses Tuesday - $57.7 million and $45.3 million, respectively.

Tyco International paid $92 million to insurer Chubb Corp. to restore coverage for its executives and officers in the event they are sued for fraud or on other grounds, The Wall Street Journal reported. A Chubb unit sued Tyco in February to rescind the policy amid a scandal over accounting irregularities and alleged fraud by former executives, which has generated shareholder lawsuits.

The assets of several shareholders were ordered seized by the government of the Dominican Republic after an embezzlement scandal at the Caribbean nation's second-largest bank drained it of a massive, but still- unannounced sum of money. Banco Intercontinental SA (Baninter) was taken over last month by the government's Central Bank after the fraud was discovered amid the collapse of a planned merger. An investigation has determined that it was perpetrated by a group of stockholders and former senior employees. In a nationwide TV address Tuesday night, the Central Bank governor revealed only that $650 million in debts had been erased from the books of Baninter and "associated companies" to help hide the missing funds. Their obligations now exceed the value of assets, he said. Baninter has not declared bankruptcy, but the government will sell off its subsidiaries to help meet those obligations, the governor said.

Software Spectrum said it will lay off 350 workers by fall after Microsoft ended their contract for a technical support call center. Software Spectrum is a unit of Level 3 Communications, based in Garland, Texas.

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