Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, the CEO of Pilot Flying J, met with the media on Tuesday to address Monday’s surprising raid of company headquarters by the FBI and IRS.
Haslam said he “personally feel[s] bad” about the potential blemish this incident places on the Browns, and that it’s “business as usual” for the football team.
Haslam said that the investigation “appears to be centered on a very insignificant number of customers and the application of rebates.” Haslam explained that the authorities apparently believe “rebates owed to customers were not paid,” and that “[w]e of course disagree with that.”
He said that, for example, if a trucking company bought 50,000 gallons of fuel, a certain rebate would be available.
Despite the presence of the IRS at the raid, Haslam said that he doesn’t believe the situation involves violation of state or federal tax laws.
Haslam also adroitly distanced himself from the problem, if a problem indeed exists. “I’m not involved in that kind of detail in the business,” he said while prefacing a response to a reporter’s question.
The timeline provided by Haslam suggested that the authorities arrived before 2:00 p.m. ET and left after 11:00 p.m. ET. He said that the company has begun an internal investigation into the incident.