NEW YORK – Tesla CEO Elon Musk is disputing the Securities and Exchange Commission’s claim that the billionaire entrepreneur violated an agreement with the agency to tone down his Twitter behavior.
The SEC told a federal judge Monday that the violation came when Musk said in a Feb. 19 tweet that Tesla would make around 500,000 cars in 2019. He tweeted again later that he “meant to say” weekly production would equal to half-a-million cars.
“SEC forgot to read Tesla earnings transcript, which clearly states 350k to 500k. How embarrassing,” Musk told his Twitter followers shortly after several reports surfaced noting the SEC’s complaint.
SEC told the judge that the Tesla CEO appeared to mislead his followers. “[Musk] once again published inaccurate and material information about Tesla to his over 24 million Twitter followers, including members of the press, and made this inaccurate information available to anyone with Internet access,” the SEC noted.
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Musk, who owns more than 20 percent of the company, and Tesla agreed to resolve an SEC probe in October 2018 without admitting or denying wrongdoing. The plan called for their combined $40 million in penalties to be distributed to affected shareholders, and for Musk to step away from Tesla’s board, the SEC has said.
The controversy popped up in August 2018 when Musk told his Twitter followers that he secured “funding” to take the company private at $420 per share, a number exceeding the value of the company up until that point. His tweet followed a report suggesting Saudi Arabia became a major Tesla shareholder earlier in 2018.
Tesla has not yet responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about the nature of the complaint.