January 31, 2023

The US government may be mulling an investigation into Elon Musk’s relationships with foreign countries following his $44 billion buyout of Twitter last month. The Biden administration has raised concerns about national security after Musk teamed up with a conglomerate of investors from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to purchase the social media company. President Joe Biden recently said that this relationship is “worthy of being looked at.”

According to a Bloomberg report, the US government is looking into whether Twitter’s foreign investors have access to user data. The government has sought more information on the confidential agreements that Musk made with those investors to accumulate funds for the Twitter buyout. Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al Waleed bin Talal Al Saud and the Qatar Investment Authority are some of the foreign names with stakes in the social media company.

Additionally, the Biden administration is also monitoring Musk’s business dealings in China and Ukraine. His EV (electric vehicle) company Tesla has a manufacturing site near Shanghai in China. National security experts have concerns that the site could be a leverage point for Beijing. Meanwhile, Musk’s Starlink satellite internet network is facilitating communications in Ukraine in the country’s fight against Russia. The multi-billionaire threatened to cut off the service last month but it’s still operational.

The US government is still reviewing Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover

Shortly after President Biden’s remarks on Elon Musk’s relationships with foreign countries, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that there’s no basis to investigate the Twitter deal. Yellen’s Treasury Department leads the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States or Cfius. The Committee looks into business deals for potential national security risks. So her comments came as a surprise. But a Treasury Department spokesperson later hinted a review of the Twitter deal is still underway.

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“Cfius doesn’t comment on transactions it may or may not be reviewing,” Bloomberg cites the spokesperson as saying. They added that “the panel is committed to safeguarding national security”. This comes around the same time a group of seven Democratic senators wrote to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to launch an investigation into Elon Musk and Twitter. This is about Musk’s alleged disregard for privacy and security risks on the platform. He forced some changes to the social network despite “clear warnings”

A Twitter lawyer previously warned that Musk is taking Twitter closer to fines of billions of dollars. And a government or FTC investigation is now appearing increasingly likely. Time will tell what comes next. We will keep you posted.