Laws intended to stop corporate fraud are being used to prosecute Americans for clearing their browser history

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was used to prosecute Boston Bomber acquaintance Khairullozhon Matanov

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Laws originally intended to expose corporate crimes are being used to prosecute Americans for clearing their web browser history, it has emerged.

An acquaintance of the Boston Bombers, Khairullozhon Matanov, was prosecuted for destroying digital ‘documents’ relevant to an investigation.

Khairullozhon Matanov, 24, says he had dinner with Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev the night before the Boston Marathon bombings.

After reporting to a police station and informing the authorities, he went home and deleted his browser history, however.

He was arrested a year after the bombings and charged with obstruction of justice.

Federal prosecutors allege that he deleted records in a manner made illegal under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

This law was enacted by the US Congress in the wake of the Enron scandal and as originally intended to prevent company directors from destroying documents to cover up corporate crimes.


Since its enactment the law has come to be applied to digital data – in Mr Matanov’s case, including web browser histories.

Under the Act, prosecutors do not need to show that the person charged knew that there was be an investigation under way for the destruction to be a crime.

Mr Matanov told US news outlet the Daily Beast last year that he believed the “FBI is trying to destroy my life”.

In March Mr Matanov, who is a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, pleaded guilty to charges of lying to investigators.

In 2012, Michael Oxley, a US lawmaker who co-authored the law, told the Reuters news agency that his Act was still fit-for-purpose.

"We've not had anything even approaching an Enron or a WorldCom or any of the other accounting scandals that we witnessed 11 years or so ago,” he said in an interview.

The Boston Marathon bombing killed three people and injured 264.