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Yellen sees "no basis" to investigate Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter

Bali, Indonesia — In an interview with CBS News on Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she sees "no basis" for launching an investigation into Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter. Her comments came days after President Biden said the acquisition was "worth being looked at" on national security grounds.

While Musk, the world's richest man, financed most of the $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, according to Reuters, $7.1 billion was backed by private equity investors and foreign investors from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which could potentially subject the transaction to a national security review overseen by the treasury secretary.

But Yellen said an investigation is unlikely to happen.

"Well, I'm not sure precisely what [the president] had in mind, but we are — we have really no basis — to the best of my knowledge — to examine his finances of his company. I'm not aware of concerns that would cause us to [investigate]," Yellen told CBS News chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen attend the launch of a pandemic fund as part of the G20 dialogue, in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on November 13, 2022. BAY ISMOYO/AFP via Getty Images

Asked to clarify whether she has any concerns about the transaction, Yellen said, "I don't think we have the basis to launch some investigation."

Mr. Biden did not specify what kind of review he would favor and took pains make clear he was not accusing Musk of wrongdoing.

Yellen chairs the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a panel of cabinet secretaries and senior executive branch officials with the authority to review business deals involving investment from abroad. If the panel determines a deal threatens national security, it can suspend the transaction.

"CFIUS is committed to taking all necessary actions within its authority to safeguard U.S. national security," a Treasury Department official said. "Consistent with law and practice, CFIUS does not publicly comment on transactions that it may or may not be reviewing."

Musk, cofounder of Tesla and founder of SpaceX, took control of Twitter in late October.  His brief tenure at the social media firm has so far been marked by uncertainty and looming mass layoffs.

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