It looks like Trump’s Attorney General William Barr may have intervened to quash the tax evasion case against Caterpillar, one of Barr’s former clients, when he became AG.
Certainly, the timing is HIGHLY suspect:
Before William Barr became President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the U.S. Department of Justice, he represented Caterpillar Inc, a Fortune 100 company, in a federal criminal investigation by the department.
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.
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.
Potential conflicts of interest, whether real or apparent, often arise when high-powered lawyers switch between private practice and government service. Bruce A. Green, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at Fordham Law School, said it is not unheard of for attorney generals to have clients who had business before the DOJ. He noted that in 2009, President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, recused himself from a case involving Swiss Bank UBS, a prior client.
But Green said he could not recall a case where agents were told to take no further action on a matter involving an incoming attorney general’s former client without some kind of explanation. “Why would you just stop?” he asked.
Because Barr made it clear that he would be Trump’s guy, but he just needed a “little favor”, that’s why.
The government’s questions about Caterpillar’s tax structure started with a whistleblower lawsuit in 2009 that laid out what it said was a complex “tax dodge” to route Caterpillar profits on parts sales through a company in Switzerland. Then, in 2014, the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations dug into the issue, and alleged the company adopted a sales strategy that “shifted billions of dollars in profits away from the United States and into Switzerland, where Caterpillar had negotiated an effective corporate tax rate of 4% to 6%.” The Senate investigators quoted company insiders who said the system was structured for “tax avoidance.”
The next year, a federal grand jury in Illinois launched a criminal investigation. In March 2017, federal agents raided three Caterpillar offices, wheeling out evidence in large black plastic boxes. In a report written for the government, a consultant for the investigators, Leslie Robinson, called the tax strategy “fraudulent rather than negligent.”
Two weeks after the raid, Caterpillar Chief Executive Jim Umpleby announced the hiring of Barr as company counsel. Barr would “take a fresh look at Caterpillar’s disputes with the government, get all the facts, and then help us bring these matters to proper resolution based on the merits.”
This October, Robinson communicated again with the investigators. In emails reviewed by Reuters, she asked what had happened to the case, explaining that a Reuters reporter had inquired. That’s when LeBeau explained, copying other agents and a prosecutor on the email, that they had been told to take no further action a week after Barr’s nomination 20 months ago.
“We were given no additional explanation,” he wrote.
I REALLY want to see Barr lose his law license, but if he loses his license to practice law, that would be good too.
This guy is openly, and aggressively corrupt.