DOJ STOPS QUIZ ON CATERPILLAR AS BARR TAKES OVER DEPARTMENT
Before William Barr became President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), he represented Caterpillar Inc., a Fortune 100 company, in a federal criminal investigation by the department, Aram Roston reported exclusively for Reuters.
Much was at stake for Caterpillar: Since 2018, the Internal Revenue Service has been demanding $2.3 billion in payments from the company in connection with the tax matters under criminal investigation. The company is contesting that finding. A week after Barr was nominated for the job of attorney general, Justice officials in Washington told the investigative team in the active criminal probe of Caterpillar to take “no further action” in the case, according to an email written by one of the agents and reviewed by Reuters.
The decision, the email said, came from the Justice Department’s Tax Division and the office of the deputy attorney general, who was then Rod Rosenstein. “I was instructed on December 13, 2018,” wrote the agent, Jason LeBeau, “that the Tax Division and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General jointly came to the decision that no further action was to be taken on the matter until further notice.” LeBeau, an inspector general agent at the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), declined interview requests from Reuters.
Since then, a source close to the case says, the investigation has “stalled.” The order to freeze the Caterpillar investigation has not been previously reported. Reuters was unable to determine why Justice issued the “no further action” directive. It was not issued by Barr, as it came before he was confirmed. A Justice Department spokesperson said Barr recused himself from any Caterpillar discussions once he became attorney general, but declined further comment. Barr, in testimony during his confirmation hearings, said rules of legal privilege precluded him from discussing his work for the company. It is possible that Barr would face the dock for the preferential treatment of Caterpillar since he could have issued an order to freeze the investigation right through surrogates after he was nominated attorney general by Trump.