What You Need to Know
- He also says the SEC has not paid Tesla shareholders $40 million the agency collected in 2018 settlements over Musk’s tweets.
Elon Musk and Tesla Inc. told a judge that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is targeting them with “unrelenting investigation” for criticizing the government, while failing to pay Tesla shareholders $40 million the agency collected in 2018 settlements over Musk’s tweets.
The SEC “seems to be targeting Mr. Musk and Tesla” with “endless probes” because he remains “an outspoken critic of the government,” Alex Spiro, one of their lawyers, said in a letter filed with the federal court in Manhattan on Thursday, the latest shot in a battle between Musk and the SEC over his Twitter posts about the electric carmaker.
The agency is using the settlements to “muzzle and harass” Tesla’s chief executive officer, Spiro said.
The federal judge Spiro wrote to has herself raised questions about the status of a $40 million fund established from fines paid for Musk’s controversial tweets, seeking accounting statements in a December order.
Shares of Tesla were down 2.8% to $897.65 in New York at 10:39 a.m., amid a broader market decline that saw the Nasdaq stock market down 1.6%.
Musk was cool but combative as he testified in a Delaware courtroom that Tesla’s more than $2 billion acquisition of SolarCity in 2016 wasn’t a bailout of the struggling solar provider. Read More: Tesla Subpoenaed by SEC About Complying With Musk Settlement
Press officials at the SEC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.
Rust Consulting Inc., the firm appointed in May to administer distributions from the fund, hasn’t filed required accounting statements, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan said in the December order.
The SEC reached settlements with Musk and Tesla in September 2018 after suing the billionaire over his tweeted claims weeks earlier that he had the funding and investor support to buy out stockholders at $420 a share.
Rust told Nathan last month that it had received a draft distribution plan from the SEC and that it’s awaiting approval of the plan by Nathan and transfer of the funds into an escrow account.