The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that it is suing Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, for his tweets that had suggested he would take his company private.
Musk’s tweet alluded to the fact that he had secured funding to take Tesla private and the only way standing in his way was a vote by his shareholders. In reality, almost nothing was underway at that point, few company officials were even aware of the prospect, no funders were secured, and prices weren’t settled. “Musk’s statements were premised on a long series of baseless assumptions and were contrary to facts that Musk knew,” according to the SEC.
Musk has since backtracked on this announcement saying it had become apparent that "most of Tesla's existing shareholders believe we are better off as a public company." But market regulators are not letting this go. The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into Musk’s actions, and now the SEC has filed a case against him. The SEC sued Musk, alleging the billionaire CEO made "false and misleading" statements surrounding an Aug. 7 take-private tweet. The SEC complaint alleges Musk made that claim knowing it was false and without the input of other Tesla executives.
Musk’s announcement on Twitter impacted the shares of Tesla which led the stock price to hit $420 per share.
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
Musk has since responded to the SEC’s action calling it “unjustified.” "This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed," Musk said in a statement to CNBC. "I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors. Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way," said Musk in a statement.
The SEC has hence concluded that Musk should pay a fine and be banned for life from serving as an executive or board member of any public company.