The Haslam family, owners of the Cleveland Browns, is embroiled in controversy as they face accusations of attempting to bribe executives of the Pilot truck stop chain, a company they are trying to sell.
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway alleges that the Haslams tried to bribe at least 15 Pilot executives and paid millions to inflate the company’s profits, potentially forcing Berkshire to pay more for their remaining 20% stake in the company, valued at around $3.2 billion.
“Berkshire said Jimmy Haslam offered to personally pay bonuses to the executives that would far exceed their annual salaries based on the price the family received for its remaining stake,” the Associated Press reported.
“Berkshire redacted the number of employees it believes agreed to accept bonuses, but it said Haslam made the offer to about 15 employees at a country club dinner in Knoxville, Tennessee, in March and repeated that offer to at least four other high-level executives.
“Pilot’s former CEO also extended the offer of under-the-table payments to at least 10 other executives in April, according to Berkshire’s filing.”
“We called Berkshire’s allegations wild inventions in our opposition brief,” attorney for the Haslam family Anitha Reddy said on Thursday.
The Haslam family, including Cleveland Browns managing partner Jimmy Haslam and former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, had initially sued Berkshire Hathaway for allegedly understating Pilot’s earnings.
The legal proceedings are scheduled for January. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns are having a solid season, with their defense performing at a top-tier level.