A leading watchdog group said Tuesday that it’s raising concerns that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s tax audit tools, as well as the FBI’s internal watchdog, could be deployed to seize millions of dollars in assets of tech giants.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research, a nonpartisan think tank, said the SEC’s own inspector general warned that a wide array of tools could end up being used against tech companies that have made investments in the federal government.
“We’ve seen these tools in other countries and they were used in criminal cases and they have been used against businesses,” CEP said in a statement.
Companies are also subject to a variety of civil and criminal laws.
Some tools may be used for civil or criminal cases, but they may also be used by the FBI to investigate or to seize property or services of a company or individuals,” Cep said.
For example, if the SEC is investigating a financial company for possible tax evasion, it could use the tools to get information about whether or not the company has violated any federal laws, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
In addition, the SEC could use tax audit to seek information about companies that are involved in trade or business with foreign countries, or to obtain information that might be relevant to a tax investigation.
Cep said the tools could also be deployed in cases involving foreign governments, including those where the U.S. government is a party to the trade or trade agreements the tech companies are involved with.
One of the tools is called the Export Administration Act.
It is a law passed in 1945 to provide the U