Court Battles

Elon Musk cleared of wrongdoing in trial over 2018 tweets

Elon Musk
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition on March 9, 2020, in Washington.

Twitter CEO Elon Musk has been cleared of wrongdoing related to tweets he posted in 2018 announcing plans to try to take Tesla private. 

A jury found that Musk did not violate federal securities laws in posting his plans and hinting that the arrangement would go through before it failed to come together. 

“Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured,” he posted, years before he became the head of the social media platform. 

“Investor support is confirmed. Only reason why this is not certain is that it’s contingent on a shareholder vote,” he later posted. 

Investors filed a class-action lawsuit against Musk, Tesla and the company’s board of directors over the tweets, arguing that he falsely claimed funding was secured when it was not and that his posts caused them to lose money when stock prices fell following a 10-day surge after Musk gave up on the deal. 

Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, said Musk’s tweets were “technically inaccurate” but did not reach the level of fraud. 

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen, an appointee of former President Obama, had instructed the jury to view the tweets as false after concluding last year that they were. 

Musk testified during the trial that he believed he had the funding to take Tesla private with support from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. He said his tweets were meant to inform investors that Tesla might no longer be a public company. 

Nicholas Porritt, who served as an attorney for the investors, said Musk has a “loose relationship” with the truth and argued that Musk had only had a 45-minute meeting at a Tesla factory with the leader of the Saudi fund. A text message included in evidence showed the fund was only interested in learning more about the proposal in August of that year. 

“Elon Musk apparently thinks it is easier to get billions of dollars in financing than an auto loan or a mortgage,” Porritt said.  

The Hill has reached out to Tesla for comment from the company or Musk. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tags class action Edward Chen Elon Musk Elon Musk Lawsuit private company Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund Tesla

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