. announced this week it has retained former U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr as outside counsel after the company’s offices were raided by agents of the Internal Revenue Service recently. Jim Umpleby, who became Caterpillar CEO Jan. 1, has tasked Barr, currently of counsel to the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, with reviewing matters relating to the search warrants executed at Caterpillar facilities on March 2, and assisting the company in appropriately addressing those matters.
Federal investigators have been looking into Caterpillar’s tax affairs since a 2014 Senate hearing found that the company cut its tax bill by $2.4 billion over 13 years by using complex strategies and one of the company’s Swiss subsidiaries. In the past, Caterpillar has said its tax strategies are lawful.
“Bill Barr is one of the most distinguished lawyers in the country, with an impeccable track record, well known for his integrity and direct, honest advice,” said Umpleby. “I have asked Bill — who has no prior connection with Caterpillar — to draw on his experience and that of his colleagues at Kirkland & Ellis and other advisers, to 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.”
Barr served as the 77th Attorney General of the United States (1991-93) under President George H.W. Bush, and before that as deputy attorney general (1990-91) and as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel (1989-90) at the United States Department of Justice. After his public service, Mr. Barr served for more than 14 years as executive vice president and general counsel of Verizon Communications and its predecessor company, GTE Corp.
“I am committed to maintaining Caterpillar’s long tradition of pursuing the highest ethical standards in conducting our business and, as we focus on restoring growth at Caterpillar, I am confident that Bill’s assistance will help our leadership team achieve these goals,” Umpleby concluded.