My personal experience with IBM says no, they don't abuse L1. I used to work for IBM and went to the US for a while on an L1 visa. I was *more* expensive to IBM than a local worker because they paid a pretty sweet per-diem rate to me for the full duration I was there (in IBM, an international assignment works like this - you still work and are paid by your home country, and it is treated like a very long business trip effectively - so you get an International Service Allowance).
To give you an idea of how much I cost IBM, my international service allowance was good enough that I didn't spend my salary - I lived entirely off the ISA. That included learning to fly then running a private aeroplane (albeit a modest one). The salary I banked means when I got back I could buy quite a nice house with a very small mortgage. By the way, I live in a part of western Europe where property prices are stupidly high (similar to prices in the SF bay) not some 3rd world country where the money goes a long way.
They were constantly trying to replace me with a local person because I was too expensive, but I had specialist knowledge (the reason I was on assignment) which kept me out there.