WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department's inspector general has concluded that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan did not seek preferential treatment of Boeing Co, his former employer, while at the Pentagon, a U.S. official told Reuters on Thursday.
The decision potentially opens the door for U.S. President Donald Trump to nominate Shanahan to be the next defence secretary.
Officials close to Shanahan have said they believe one of the main reasons he has not been nominated yet was because of the inspector general's investigation. Trump has had numerous opportunities during the past few months to nominate him but has not yet done so.
Shanahan, 56, who spent more than three decades at Boeing, is the longest serving acting defence secretary ever. He took over at the Pentagon on Jan. 1 after Jim Mattis resigned amid policy differences with Trump.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the inspector general found no evidence of wrongdoing and could put out the report publicly as early as Thursday.
The inspector general started the investigation in March after a watchdog group filed a complaint alleging Shanahan promoted aerospace firm Boeing in meetings and disparaged competitors.
The investigation was based on a complaint filed by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, which said Shanahan had appeared to violate the ethical rules by "promoting Boeing in the scope of his official duties at the Department of Defense (DOD) and disparaging the company’s competitors to his subordinates."
(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Makini Brice; Editing by Susan Heavey and Bill Trott)