Opinion: Regarding Pilot Flying J
This Opinion piece appears in the May 6 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
Editor’s note: The following is a letter sent to the motor carrier members of American Trucking Associations by ATA President and CEO Bill Graves on May 2, 2013, regarding the ongoing investigation of alleged discrepancies in a fuel purchasing rebate program by federal authorities into Pilot Flying J.
Dear ATA Motor Carrier Member:
As you are no doubt aware from numerous media reports, it was recently revealed that Pilot Flying J (Pilot) — an allied member of American Trucking Associations — is the subject of a federal investigation into alleged fraudulent business practices. According to an affidavit filed to obtain a warrant to seize Pilot business records, the FBI and IRS have learned through current and former Pilot employees that certain individuals at Pilot conspired to defraud many of their customers of the full value of rebates they were entitled to under their diesel fuel contracts.
These are serious allegations, and, if they prove true, represent a serious breach of the trust affected motor carrier customers have placed in Pilot over the years. Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam appears to agree, having said that “any willful wrongdoing” by any Pilot employee is “intolerable.”
ATA has reached out to Pilot to understand what steps it intends to take. Pilot has indicated that it plans to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation. They have also begun an internal audit of their trucking company accounts in order to, in their words, “proactively address any miscalculations” they find and reimburse any discrepancies. According to their public statements, they expect this process to take four to eight weeks.
Moreover, they have engaged independent forensic accountants to do an independent audit. In addition, the Pilot Board has committed to hiring an independent investigator, reporting to the Board, to oversee their internal inquiries to ensure they are thorough and correct, which they plan to do within the next several weeks. Pilot has pledged to “diligently and aggressively figure out for [themselves] what’s going on, and if [they] find anything amiss, [they] are going to make it straight right away.”
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