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Elon Musk is under federal investigation over his Twitter deal, Twitter claims

CNN Business

Federal authorities are investigating Elon Musk in connection with his $44 billion purchase of Twitter, the social media platform said in a court filing Thursday.

It is not clear which agencies may be conducting the investigation, and Twitter did not identify which specific actions by Musk US officials may be investigating. Twitter̵[ads1]7;s filing said only that authorities are looking into Musk’s “conduct” related to the deal.

The company’s legal filing elsewhere accused Musk’s legal team of failing to produce draft communications with the Securities and Exchange Commission and a slide presentation to the Federal Trade Commission as part of the two sides’ ongoing litigation over whether Musk can walk away from the deal.

Musk first sought to end the deal in July, alleging that Twitter breached their mutual purchase agreement by misrepresenting the number of spam and fake bot accounts on the platform. Twitter sued Musk to complete the acquisition, accusing the billionaire of using robots as a pretext to back out of a deal over which he developed buyer’s remorse after a market downturn.

Last week, Musk proposed to follow through on his agreement to buy the company at the originally agreed price of $54.20 per share. The judge overseeing the dispute later in the week decided to adjourn the proceedings until October 28 following a request from Musk.

In response to Twitter’s filing Thursday, Alex Spiro, Musk’s lawyer, said it was designed to distract from Twitter’s own legal troubles, which arose after the company’s former chief security officer, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, accused Twitter of long-ignored security vulnerabilities in a disclosure of whistleblowers.

“Twitter’s executives are under federal investigation,” Spiro said in a statement to CNN. “This misdirection was sent by Twitter to try to uncover which of their various wrongdoings they are under investigation for.”

The Federal Trade Commission, which is responsible for enforcing the terms of a 2011 consent order with Twitter that Zatko alleges the company violated, has not made public an investigation. But its head, Lina Khan, has told Congress in public testimony that if it is determined that Twitter executives were responsible for violations, the FTC “absolutely” would and “would not hesitate” to hold those executives personally liable.

In a separate filing Thursday, Twitter also maintained that it did not instruct Zatko to burn more notebooks as part of a separation agreement, as Musk’s team had claimed in a filing earlier this month. Instead, Twitter claimed, Zatko destroyed the notebooks of his own volition.

“Twitter did not ask Zatko to burn his own documents, much less require him to do so,” Twitter’s filing states. “Twitter had no knowledge of Zatko’s notebooks and no idea what information they contained.”

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