Business briefing

The daily business briefing: February 28, 2017

SpaceX announces plan to fly space tourists around the moon, Samsung chief charged in bribery scandal, and more


SpaceX to fly two space tourists around moon

SpaceX plans to fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon in its Dragon spacecraft next year, the company's founder and CEO, Elon Musk, said Monday. SpaceX said it would identify the space tourists, who have already paid large deposits for their spots on the week-long flight, after initial health and fitness tests. The passengers will be the only people on board the fully autonomous flight. The mission will occur after SpaceX makes its first manned flight, sending NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. "I hope this gets people really excited about sending people into deep space again," Musk said.


Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong charged in bribery scandal

South Korean prosecutors on Tuesday charged Samsung heir apparent Lee Jae-yong with bribery and embezzlement in connection with the corruption case that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Lee, 48, was arrested on Feb. 17 for his alleged role in payments from Samsung to companies and organizations tied to Park's friend Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of the scandal. "We apologize for the social controversy and distress we have caused," Samsung Group Executive Vice President Lee June said. The charges came as South Korea's Constitutional Court prepares to rule on whether to uphold Park's impeachment, permanently removing her from power.


Takata pleads guilty to hiding airbag defect

Takata pleaded guilty to fraud on Monday for concealing a defect in its airbag inflators that has been linked to 16 deaths, 11 of them in the U.S. The Japanese auto parts maker agreed to pay $1 billion in penalties, admitting in its plea that it hid evidence that the inflators could explode, blasting shrapnel that could injure drivers and passengers. The plaintiffs' attorneys also appeared to broaden their lawsuit, accusing automakers Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, and BMW of using the devices despite knowing they could be dangerous.


Sexual harassment claims fuel class-action case against Sterling Jewelers

Hundreds of former Sterling Jewelers employees have accused the company's CEO and other leaders of allowing a corporate culture rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, according to arbitration documents obtained by The Washington Post. The declarations, most of which were made years ago, came from roughly 250 women and men who worked at Sterling, the multi-billion dollar conglomerate behind Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Kay Jewelers. The case was first filed by more than a dozen women in 2008, but has grown into a still-unresolved class action case covering 69,000 women who are current or former Sterling employees. Sterling spokesman David Bouffard said company officials "have thoroughly investigated the allegations and have concluded they are not substantiated by the facts and certainly do not reflect our culture."


Tesla shares drop on Goldman Sachs downgrade

Tesla shares dropped by 4 percent on Monday after Goldman Sachs downgraded the electric-car maker over concerns that production of its first mass-market vehicle, the Model 3 sedan, would be delayed. Goldman Sachs analyst David Tamberrino lowered his target price for the stock and slapped it with a "sell" rating. Tamberrino's concerns extended beyond the Model 3 launch, now set for the summer. He also expressed concern over the financial resources associated with Tesla's integration of solar energy company SolarCity.


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