NEW YORK – A former Tesla employee filed a tip with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleging that company staffers were skeptical of CEO Elon Musk’s promise to take the company private, Business Insider reported Monday.
Sean Gouthro, Tesla’s former head of global security operations center and investigation, filed a tip in January alleging that Tesla employees were skeptical about Musk’s August 2018 promise to take the company off Wall Street, the report notes. His complaint comes amid simmering tiffs between regulators and the mercurial Musk.
“Many were suspect of the purported deal’s legitimacy,” Gouthro’s claimed, according to his law firm, Meissner Associates. The SEC sued Musk in September for fraud after he told his Twitter followers in an Aug. 7 post that he had enough funding to take Tesla private.
Musk, the titular head of the company, plays fast and loose with the facts, some analysts say. He told investors in May 2016, for instance, that he expected Tesla to produce between 100,000 and 200,000 Model 3 sedans in the second half of 2017. Tesla made a fraction of that number. Still, the company’s followers consider the CEO indispensable to the company.
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Gouthro is the third former Tesla employee to announce the filing of a whistleblowing tip within a year. A former technician at the company’s Gigafactory filed a tip in July 2018 containing claims that Tesla used batteries with puncture holes in vehicles meant for customers.
Tesla is dismissing the thrust of Gouthro’s claims, telling The Daily Caller News Foundation that he worked for the company for about a year and never brought up his complaint.
“Like the claims of Mr. Meissner’s other clients, Mr. Gouthro’s allegations are untrue and sensationalized, only intended to seek the attention of the media. For several weeks prior to today’s release, Mr. Meissner has been aggressively shopping this story to the media,” a company representative said.