Breaking – Feds search Caterpillar

Stock sinks, questions bubble up

Federal law enforcement officers entered three Peoria Caterpillar facilities this morning and executed a search warrant, according to multiple news reports. The activity was confirmed by a statement from the company, which did not identify the search’s purpose or the name of the agency conducting it. According to an article by Chris Kaergard, political reporter for the Peoria Journal Star, some observers noticed agents wearing IRS jackets, and other reported details suggest that the U.S. Department of Commerce and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation may be involved. Peoria Public Radio reports sightings of Illinois State Police and says that other information suggests the focus may be on import-export matters.

Kaergard reports that a number of employees at the manufacturer’s global headquarters, including some from the tax and accounting departments, were relocated to a cafeteria and were not permitted to leave the building. Other employees were told to leave for the day.

The two additional locations being searched are in East Peoria and Morton, Illinois. Per Kaegard’s report, “An employee at Building AD in East Peoria said the arrival of agents at that facility was less disruptive than the one in Downtown Peoria appeared to be, with agents executing warrants at the East Peoria site appearing to concentrate on securing emails and electronic records.”

Caterpillar stock has dropped significantly today as news of the raid has spread, with Bloomberg News headlining “The Biggest Slump in 8 Months.”

Local residents and workers have been rocked by various Caterpillar announcements in past months, when the company reneged on downtown development promises and announced that company headquarters would be relocated to Chicago. These moves prompted Peoria Star columnist Phil Luciano to muse that the federal agents may be “looking for Cat’s conscience.” or that the raids may make the HQ move impossible.

This story is developing…check back for an update next week.

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