Caterpillar slides following a report that accuses it of tax and accounting fraud

Caterpillar failed to comply with US tax and financial reporting rules in an effort to keep its stock price high, according to a government-commissioned report reviewed by The New York Times.

The story cited a report prepared by Dartmouth College that investigated the heavy machinery-maker’s tax practices.

Its main finding was that Caterpillar avoided reporting on billions of dollars it brought to the US from its Swiss units and affiliates. Caterpillar returned $US7.9 billion in funds structured as loans but did not report them for tax or accounting purposes, The Times reported.

“I believe that the company’s noncompliance with these rules was deliberate and primarily with the intention of maintaining a higher share price,” wrote Leslie Robinson, a Dartmouth accounting professor and author of the report, which was reviewed by The Times but not yet by Caterpillar.

“We were not provided a copy of the report,” said Corrie Scott, a Caterpillar spokesperson, in an emailed statement. “We will not offer comment on a report we haven’t seen.”

Caterpillar shares were down 3% in premarket trading following The Times’ report.

Last week Thursday, law enforcement officers — including some wearing jackets with the Internal Revenue Service logo — executed a search warrant at Caterpillar’s facilities in the Peoria, Illinois area.

Multinationals like Caterpillar face a 35% tax rate in the US, steeper than the prevailing rates in most other developed economies. This discourages them from repatriating overseas earnings and facing US taxes. President Donald Trump has proposed that companies with large stashes of overseas cash be able to return them at a 10% rate.

Get the latest Caterpillar stock price here.

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