Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pilot Flying J affidavit reveals possible racism

Reading through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s affidavit seeking the warrant to search Pilot Flying J’s headquarters is like peeling back an onion. One stinking layer of alleged deception after another.

Once you get past the foul language and quoted laughter, it reaches a new level of disturbing. Racism.

The affidavit clearly shows that smaller trucking companies were allegedly targeted by the scam to defraud them out of rebates owed to them. But as you dig deeper and further into the document, it gets worse.

Early on in the document, the FBI details a list of terms used by the sales staff to describe the alleged scheme. Included in that list are the terms “manuel,” “manwell,” and “manny.” All terms to describe the manual calculating of the rebates.

Flipping on through, on Page 83 it certainly raises eyebrows when it’s detailed how language barriers were exploited in the alleged fraud as well.

Kevin Hanscomb, the current director of sales for the east region is quoted as saying:

“They’re not stupid there is just … uh … there is a language barrier. So you can get away with a little bit more because they know that they are not going to understand everything you say. So you can say cost minus, or cost plus 3, and it’s cost plus 5 and they’re not going to go oh well, he’s screwing us … maybe I misunderstood. So there is some forgiveness there that probably isn’t at other parts of the world.”

The comment was made to a confidential informant who worked with the FBI and facilitated tapings of some of the conversations detailed in the affidavit.

The comment above came from a conversation in which Hanscomb was talking to the informant about the ability to reduce discounts in the south Florida area without much consequence because of the language barrier in that region.

It should be noted that Pilot Flying J President and CEO Jimmy Haslam reviewed the same affidavit I’m quoting from over the weekend. He studied it, he said.

He addressed the media on Monday and has continued to issue statements throughout the week.

He talked about a “reputational hit” the company has taken in the course of this investigation. He maintains that the foundation of the company is built on “its integrity.”

A statement released to the media on Wednesday revealed that several members of the sales team were placed on administrative leave on an interim basis.

We are not judging the guilt or innocence of the team members placed on administrative leave. We are addressing actions and words that fail to show proper respect to our customers and that violate the character, values and principles that have been core to this company since it was founded 54 years ago,” the release states.

Stay tuned. Who knows what, if any, layer will be peeled off next.