The U.S Securities and Exchange Commission accused Tesla Inc. (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk on the Thursday of fraud, asked him to remove him from his role in charge of the electric car company as he made series of false and misleading tweets about potentially taking Tesla private last month. Regulator described how Musk surprised members of his own team and investors with a series of tweets, starting with 7 Aug.
The announcement that he was taking Tesla, private, was made after twelve minutes of his first tweet, Tesla head of investor texted Musk’s chief of staff to ask whether Musk’s announcement was “legit” or not, said SEC.
As Musk is the public face of Tesla and losing him would be a big blow for money-losing car maker which has a market value of more than $50 billion, chiefly because of the investor’s belief in Musk’s leadership. The department of justice which has the authority to press criminal charges has also questioned the company about Musk’s tweet, the company said this month.
“This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed”, “Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way,” Musk said in a statement. Tesla board also stated that they have ‘full confidence’ on Musk. Musk tweeted that he might take Tesla private at $420 per share with “funding secured”.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the SEC filed the lawsuit after a proposed settlement with Musk fell apart. SEC stated that Musk calculated the $420 price per share based on a 20 percent premium over that day’s closing share price, the investigation into Tesla in ongoing. The SEC lawsuit comes as Tesla has been struggling to deliver its new Model 3 Sedan, which is key to the company’s future profitability.
According to SEC, “ Musk knew or was reckless in not knowing” that his tweets about taking Tesla private at $420 share were false and misleading.
Musk announced his plans to the world without having discussed the matter with the fund or looked at many of the logistics of going private, and also he did not communicate with the fund representatives again until the three days of his tweet, SEC added.