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    Thursday, March 19, 2009

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    13 firms receiving federal bailout owe back taxes

    Thirteen firms receiving billions of dollars in federal bailout money owe a total of more than $220 million in unpaid federal taxes, a key lawmaker said Thursday.

    Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, chairman of a House subcommittee overseeing the federal bailout, said two firms owe more than $100 million apiece.

    TARP MONEY: Who got what (sortable chart)

    "This is shameful. It is a disgrace," Lewis said. "We are going to get to the bottom of what is going on here."

    The House Ways and Means subcommittee on oversight discovered the unpaid taxes in a review of tax records from 23 of the firms receiving the most money, Lewis said as he opened a hearing on the issue.

    The committee said it could not legally release the names of the companies owing taxes. It said one recipient had almost $113 million in unpaid federal income taxes from 2005 and 2006. A second recipient owed almost $102 million dating to before 2004. Another was behind $1.1 million in federal income taxes and $223,000 in federal employment taxes.

    "If we looked at all 470 recipients, how much would they owe?" Lewis asked.

    Lewis said the panel plans to review tax records from other firms receiving federal money, but he was unsure if it would look at every firm.

    "We're not done," he said.

    Banks and other firms receiving federal money were required to sign contracts stating they had no unpaid taxes, Lewis said. But he said the Treasury Department did not ask them to turn over their tax records.

    Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, told the hearing that if an executive signed a contract knowing that information about unpaid taxes was false, "that would potentially be a crime." He said his office will look to see if crimes were committed.

    No one from the Treasury Department appeared at Thursday's hearing. Lewis said he asked Treasury officials for a private briefing on their efforts to uncover unpaid taxes, as well as someone to testify at Thursday's hearing.

    "They said no one was available," Lewis said in an interview.

    Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is already under fire on Capitol Hill for not preventing $165 million in bonuses from being paid to employees at troubled insurance giant AIG.

    People will ask, said Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., why there are "large companies getting taxpayer dollars, making false representations, and we can't even name them, much less make them pay the money back, much less prosecute them."

    Davis continued: "Will they get their day on a billboard, hopefully?"

    "Absolutely," said Barofsky. If someone lied, he said, "They need to be prosecuted."

    The revelation is sure to spark outrage on Capitol Hill, where the House is expected to vote Thursday on a bill that would impose steep taxes on employee bonuses at AIG and other firms that have received bailout money.

    To date, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, has paid out more than $300 billion to private companies, with billions more on the way.

    Portfolio Mobile - Last Bytes: Hulu, Techie Cheney, IMDB, California Start-Ups

    Last Bytes: Hulu, Techie Cheney, IMDB, California Start-Ups

    An explanation from NBC boss Jeff Zucker for why you can't watch Hulu on Boxee. Sort of. [Business Insider]

    Dick Cheney reads on a Kindle and emails on a Blackberry, but there's no word on how well the reception is in his bunker. [WSJ Digits]

    You already go to IMDB to find out everything about every movie star ever. Eventually, it wants to stream movies to you when you come to do your research. [CNet News]

    According to one survey of CEOs, California is the worst state in which to start your business. Ouch. [GigaOm]Related Links Winner? Loser? Or Hobbled From the Start?
    Hulu Sprouts a Social Network
    Hulu Videos Return to Boxee (Sort of)

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    Reuters - Samsung launches movies to mobiles service

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    Samsung launches movies to mobiles service

    Thursday, Mar 19, 2009 6:0PM UTC

    LONDON (Reuters) - Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd launched a service allowing its customers to buy or rent movies and TV series to download to their mobile phones.

    The breadth of Samsung's offering, which includes over 500 blockbusters from top studios Warner Bros MTWX.N, Paramount and Universal, makes it competitive with other mobile media offerings from Apple Inc and Nokia Oyj.

    Samsung Movies, a dedicated virtual store for Samsung customers, launches initially in Britain and Germany and will extend to other key European markets later in the year, Samsung said in a statement.

    The service, which features films such as "The Dark Knight" and TV series including "E.R." and "Friends," will be compatible only with video-enabled Samsung phones such as its new Tocco Ultra Edition.

    Samsung plans to expand the service to notebooks, MP3 and MP4 portable music players and Samsung TVs.

    Samsung Movies will use technology from privately owned digital movie retailer Acetrax, which holds agreements with film studios and music labels.

    Prices start at 2.49 pounds ($3.55) for a 24-hour rental or 4.99 pounds to buy a movie.

    Samsung said it would double its titles to 1,000 by the end of the first quarter and again to 2,000 movies and TV shows by the end of June.

    UK-based research firm CCS Insight said in a note: "The move is tangible progress in (Samsung's) convergence strategy and a first step in delivering consumer services to rival those from the likes of Nokia and Sony Ericsson.

    (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by David Holmes)

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