An article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer
this week cites challenges to the bona fides of Memphis businessman/entrepreneur R. Brad Martin as leader of an investigation into alleged fraudulent dealing by the Pilot Corporation of Tennessee.
Martin is scheduled to become interim president of the University of Memphis on July 1. Currently chairman of the RBM Venture Co., he is the former CEO of the Saks Corporation and is a board member of Pilot Flying J, an arm of Pilot. As such, he was recently named by Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam to head an internal investigation into charges that Pilot kept millions of dollars in fuel rebates owed to trucking companies who were clients of the corporation. Haslam is the brother of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.
The internal investigation parallels one initiated by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
In an article published on Monday, the Plain Dealer quotes several individuals acquainted with an earlier fraud investigation by the SEC — this one of Saks at a time when Martin was that corporation’s head.
From the Plain Dealer article:
"’At the very least there was a cloud over his tenure at Saks,’ said Christopher Ideker, a forensic accountant who has participated in many audit committee investigations for companies. ‘To me, you have a guy calling the shots on an investigation about stealing from customers who was investigated for stealing from vendors. That seems pretty straightforward.’
Ultimately, Saks would admit no wrongdoing but would settle claims resulting from the allegations in the amount of $60 million. Martin, who would leave his position at Saks within months of the settlement, was never charged. As the Plain Dealer
noted, “His brother Brian Martin, Saks' general counsel, as well as two other executives, were fired over the scandal, though also never charged.”
Martin is traveling abroad and could not be reached for comment.n