Pilot: Rebates apparently at heart of FBI, IRS raid

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/AP) -- New details are beginning to emerge about Monday's raid at Pilot Flying J's corporate headquarters in Knoxville. On Tuesday, CEO Jimmy Haslam explained to reporters the raid stemmed from a federal investigation into rebates to trucking company customers that were not paid - a charge Haslam disputed.

He also noted the allegations affect an insignificant number of Pilot's customers, adding that support from other trucking companies has been 'outstanding.'

On Monday, FBI and IRS agents locked down the Pilot Flying J offices on Lonas Drive, serving two search warrants as well as several subpoenas. According to Haslam, he was not served, but several of his salespeople were.

Pilot said it is cooperating fully with federal authorities and announced the launch of its own investigation into the matter. Haslam also said he did not think the the IRS involvement had anything to do with tax issues.

Jimmy Haslam stepped down as company CEO after buying the Browns last summer. He returned as CEO in February, replacing former PepsiCo President John Compton.

NFL.com quoted Jimmy Haslam saying, "We will cooperate appropriately with any and all external investigations and conduct our own. I believe and trust there has been no wrongdoing. The integrity of our company always has been job No. 1."

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says he still doesn't know why federal agents searched the Knoxville headquarters of the Pilot Flying J chain of truck stops, owned by his family.

The Republican governor made an impromptu visit to the press suite in the legislative office complex Tuesday, a day after the FBI and Internal Revenue Service shut down the Pilot offices.

Haslam said he had spoken with his brother, Pilot CEO and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, but that he didn't have any further details on which records the agents were searching for.

The governor said he has not had a day-to-day role in managing the company in 15 years, and that he will concentrate on his role as governor while the investigation continues.

Haslam has declined to divulge his ownership stake in the private company.


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