Federal authorities are reviewing complaints filed against Mario Nawfal, an entrepreneur who has emerged in recent months as one of Twitter’s biggest audio stars, according to two people who said they spoke with FBI and SEC officials this week.
Chet Long, a retired U.S Air Force analyst who worked with Nawfal as an adviser, and Sigmund Holtz, a former contractor for Nawfal, said that they had each spoken with federal authorities in recent days.
Long said that he reported Nawfal to the U.S. consulate in Calgary, the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission in December. He said that the entrepreneur embezzled funds from a company where he previously was a CEO and openly discussed tax evasion in conversations with him.
Long said that on Tuesday, he was instructed by the FBI in a phone call to preserve a cellphone as potential evidence in relation to his initial report to the agency. He also alleged that Nawfal personally owes him $27,000.
“I don’t want his dirty money,” Long said. “But it is something that he promised and never sent.”
Nawfal said that “there is no outstanding debt owed” to Long and that “this accusation is the first of its kind made by him.” He said he “has maintained a positive and amicable relationship” with Long. Nawfal did not address numerous tweets from Long published over the last several days alleging that he “caused emotional harm” to Long’s family.
Holtz, in response to a request for comment, confirmed that he was contacted and spoke to SEC employees who requested specific information about Nawfal.
Nawfal has not addressed the SEC or FBI reports publicly, but in a response to a message on WhatsApp, he said, “Throughout my extensive business career spanning over a decade, I have maintained an impeccable record devoid of any legal proceedings, whether civil or criminal. Furthermore, I have never been contacted by any law enforcement agencies, as there is no legitimate grounds for investigation. Thus, any assertions indicating the involvement of law enforcement appear to be blatantly false.”
The SEC and FBI declined to comment to NBC News.
Nawfal, who has rapidly gained online fame by hosting some of the largest Twitter Spaces on the platform, has been boosted by his public association with Elon Musk. Musk has participated in his discussion groups on the platform and in the last several days endorsed his discussion groups numerous times. On Saturday, Musk shared one of Nawfal’s tweets about the Russian mercenary rebellion, praising Nawfal’s content.
“Best coverage of the situation I’ve seen so far is from Mario,” Musk tweeted.
Nawfal has more than 913,000 followers on Twitter, where he frequently tweets out news and hosts discussions on the Spaces feature, which allows large group audio chats. When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his candidacy for president using the platform, Nawfal led an adjacent space that at times hosted more listeners than the announcement did.