Tesla CEO Elon Musk faces contempt claim from SEC over recent tweets

Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) shares fell by 5% in after-hours trading on Monday after the Securities Exchange Commission asked a judge to hold CEO Elon Musk in contempt for breaking a settlement deal, first reported by Bloomberg. The SEC is claiming that Musk violated the settlement when he made an “inaccurate” statement on February 19, tweeting “Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019”.

Musk later corrected himself over Twitter, saying he was referring to the production run rate. There was a four-hour gap in between the tweets, which allegedly implied to investors that the company was revising production guidance upwards by 25%.

However, as part of a settlement agreement made between Elon Musk and the SEC, the Tesla CEO is required to appoint a designated person to review all tweets that would be material to investors and the company.

The SEC found that the company implemented the policy in December stating, “Musk and Tesla state that, since Tesla’s Policy was implemented in December 2018, Musk’s tweets have been reviewed after their publication, but there is no suggestion that Musk has sought or obtained pre-approval of any tweet prior to publishing it.”

The SEC’s suit in September followed Musk’s ill-fated bid to take Tesla private. Musk tweeted in early August 2018 that he was “thinking” about taking the company private and had funding “secured” to buy the shares at $420 a share, roughly 20% higher than the market price at the time. The SEC later found that Musk had not secured funding, relying on a verbal offer from the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund (PIF).

“He 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’s federal court filing states.

The SEC’s website states that “a person who violates the court’s order may be found in contempt and be subject to additional fines or imprisonment.”

Tesla has not yet responded to the court filing, but Musk has tweeted a meme.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk faces contempt claim from SEC over recent tweets


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