The founder of the electric truck start-up Nikola was indicted on three charges Thursday in connection to an alleged scheme to lie about aspects of his company to boost stock sales, CNBC reported.
The indictment, which was unsealed on Thursday, charges Trevor Milton with two counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud, according to CNBC. The charges were brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.
Prosecutors allege that Milton made false statements on social media and during interviews in a scheme to defraud amateur investors, some of whom lost hundreds of thousands of dollars after buying company shares, The Wall Street Journal reported.
A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office, Nicholas Biase, said Milton was expected to be present in court later on Thursday after surrendering to authorities, CNBC noted.
A spokesperson for Milton did not immediately comment to the Journal or CNBC on the indictment.
According to CNBC, short-seller Hindenburg Research issued a report in September, raising some of the first allegations that Milton had made false statements, which were released several days after an announcement between Nikola and General Motors that the two had a deal together, CNBC reported.
Nikola has not been charged in the indictment and has reportedly sought to maintain distance with its founder, who resigned last year.
In an emailed statement to CNBC, Nikola said that it had “cooperated with the government throughout the course of its inquiry.”
“We remain committed to our previously announced milestones and timelines and are focused on delivering Nikola Tre battery-electric trucks later this year from the company’s manufacturing facilities,” the company continued.
Additionally, Nikola has disputed some of the allegations raised in the Hindenburg Research report, saying in a statement, “the Hindenburg article’s statements about the company were inaccurate,” according to the Journal.
The Hill has reached out to Nikola and the U.S. Attorney’s office for comment.
--Updated at 12:48 p.m.