Feds search Caterpillar facilities in Peoria

Caterpillar, which manufactures and sells construction equipment and machinery, was subject to a federal search warrant Thursday in IL. The spokeswoman said Caterpillar is cooperating.

Sources say that law enforcement is present at Caterpillar headquarters in downtown Peoria, Building AD in East Peoria and the logistics building in Morton.

Stock shares of Caterpillar Inc. fell sharply Thursday as federal authorities searched the US heavy equipment giant's Peoria, Ill., headquarters and two nearby facilities in what the company described as a tax investigation with billions of dollars at stake. She declined to comment further.

Caterpillar spokeswoman Corrie Scott said in an emailed statement the company was cooperating with authorities.

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Bloomberg News obtained copies of three related search warrants, signed February 24, that authorized seizure of a broad range of documents and electronic files related to Caterpillar's Swiss affiliate, CSARL.

Agencies involved in the search included the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security's Office of Export Enforcement, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Attorney Office's Paul said.

In a 2009 whistle-blower lawsuit, a former Caterpillar executive accused the company of using offshore subsidiaries in Switzerland and Bermuda to avoid about $2 billion in US taxes from 2000 to 2009.

Caterpillar has defended its tax strategy, calling its practices prudent, lawful and typical among large US companies.

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The stock, one of the 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, closed almost 4.3% lower at $94.36 a share.

That followed a US Senate committee report that concluded Caterpillar had shifted billions in profits overseas. "We now believe that this matter will not have a material adverse effect on the Company's consolidated results of operations, financial position or liquidity", Caterpillar stated according to Forbes. Caterpillar reported $38.5 billion in sales previous year, but that was an 18 percent decline from 2015.

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