About 24 hours after a raid by federal officials on the Knoxville, Tenn., headquarters of Pilot Flying J, CEO Jimmy Haslam talked with reporters this afternoon, saying he was “shocked” by what’s happening, but is confident things will work out in favor of the company.
He says the investigation by FBI and IRS representatives is based on claims that the company failed to pay the fuel rebates of some of its trucking customers. “It does not involve any tax issues,” he said. “To my knowledge, there was no evasion of state or federal taxes involved.”
Pilot Flying J disagrees about the accusations, said Haslam, who also said the claims are based on what he says is an “insignificant” number of customers. He did not know the exact number.
He did say the some of the company’s 23 sales people have been subpoenaed following warrants executed since yesterday, but did not say who they are, nor did he say he knew what documents agents from the FBI and IRS have taken from the company’s premises.
Haslam also told reporters the investigation is criminal rather than civil.
The Associated Press reports a total of four warrants have been served on Pilot Flying J, but reasons for them have been sealed by a federal court. Earlier the company said in a statement two warrants had been served. The U.S. Attorney’s Office won’t say where two of the them were served.
No arrests have been made as a result of the raid and warrants. All of the company’s more than 600 truckstops remain open and employees at headquarters, Haslem said, showed up for work as normal.
Jimmy Haslam is also the owner of NFL’s Cleveland Brown football team, which he purchased last year after stepping down as CEO, later returning to the position. He is also the brother of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslem, who earlier today told reports he was unaware of the reasons behind the investigation. Gov. Haslem says he has not been involved in the operations of Pilot Flying J in 15 years, through does hold an unspecified stake in the company that is in a blind trust.
You can view the entire press conference with Jimm Haslam from the WBIR-TV website.