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BRIEFLY

GLOBAL CROSSING GOES TO CONGRESS: Officials of the bankrupt fiber-optics giant Global Crossing denied that deceptive accounting practices were part of their company's financial collapse. Speaking to a House Financial Services Committee panel, the officials said Global's problems were a result of aggressive expansion, overcapacity in the telecommunications network market and the national economic downturn _ not business improprieties. Global Crossing is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department.

SEC CHIEF DEFENDS ACTIONS: The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission defended to senators his meeting with accounting industry executives on a post-Enron reform proposal, disputing accusations he improperly excluded public officials. SEC chairman Harvey Pitt also urged the Senate Banking Committee not to bar big accounting firms from providing consulting services to companies whose books they audit. Pitt's meeting with industry officials prompted the five members of the Public Oversight Board to vote in January to disband March 31.

MARINEMAX PRESIDENT TO STEP DOWN: Richard Bassett has resigned as president of Clearwater boat retailer MarineMax Inc. effective July 1. His former company, Bassett Boat Co., was one of six that merged in 1998 to become MarineMax and go public. MarineMax will not replace Bassett but rather will spread his duties among existing staff.

PENSION BILL PASSES COMMITTEE: Workers saving for retirement could be encouraged, possibly even required, to diversify investments in their company 401(k) accounts under legislation now in Congress. A Senate bill narrowly approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee says an employer that offers a 401(k) plan could make matching contributions in company stock or offer the stock as an investment option, but not both. Republicans oppose the Senate bill because they say it will prompt companies to stop matching contributions or cease offering 401(k) plans altogether.

LOAN FRAUD SETTLEMENT: A California mortgage company has agreed to a $60-million deal to settle federal and state charges that it deceived elderly homeowners into taking out loans with large hidden fees. First Alliance Mortgage Corp. will make payments to nearly 18,000 customers, including 1,000 Floridians, who will get about $3,000 each. The company did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement, which is one of the largest in Federal Trade Commission history. Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth said many elderly victims "ended up not buying a home, but losing a home." The settlement applies to people who took out First Alliance loans from 1992 to March 23, 2000.

Earnings

Carnival Corp.

The Miami cruise operator squeaked out a small profit for the fiscal quarter ended Feb. 28, overcoming a 10 percent drop in revenue it blamed on lower cruise ticket prices, occupancy and bookings since the Sept. 11 attacks.

1stQtr Year Ago

Revenue $906-mil $1.01-bil

Net Income $130-mil $128-mil

Per Share 22 cents 22 cents

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