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Elon Musk and Tesla Sued Twice for Fraud Over Tweets, Going-private Proposal

The lawsuits filed by Isaacs and William Chamberlain said Musk's and Tesla's conduct artificially inflated Tesla's stock price and violated federal securities laws.

Reuters

Updated:August 11, 2018, 10:22 AM IST
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Elon Musk and Tesla Sued Twice for Fraud Over Tweets, Going-private Proposal
File photo of Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk. (Reuters)
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San Francisco: Tesla Inc and Chief Executive Elon Musk were sued twice on Friday by investors who said they fraudulently engineered a scheme to squeeze short-sellers, including through Musk's proposal to take the electric car company private.

The lawsuits were filed three days after Musk stunned investors by announcing on Twitter that he might take Tesla private in a record $72 billion transaction that valued the company at $420 per share, and that "funding" had been "secured."

In one of the lawsuits, the plaintiff Kalman Isaacs said Musk's tweets were false and misleading, and together with Tesla's failure to correct them amounted to a "nuclear attack" designed to "completely decimate" short-sellers.

The lawsuits filed by Isaacs and William Chamberlain said Musk's and Tesla's conduct artificially inflated Tesla's stock price and violated federal securities laws.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the proposed class-action complaints filed in the federal court in San Francisco. The company is based in nearby Palo Alto, California.

Short-sellers borrow shares they believe are overpriced, sell them, and then repurchase shares later at what they hope will be a lower price to make a profit.

Such investors have long been an irritant for Musk, who has sometimes used Twitter to criticize them.

Musk's August 7 tweets helped push Tesla's stock price more than 13 percent above the prior day's close.

The stock has since given back more than two-thirds of that gain, in part following reports that the US Securities and Exchange Commission had begun inquiring about Musk's activity.

Musk has not offered evidence that he has lined up the necessary funding to take Tesla private, and the complaints did not offer proof to the contrary.

But Isaacs said Tesla's and Musk's conduct caused the volatility that cost short-sellers hundreds of millions of dollars from having to cover their short positions, and caused all Tesla securities purchasers to pay inflated prices.

Tesla's market value exceeds $60 billion, and its shares closed Friday up $3.04 at $355.49.

According to his complaint, Isaacs bought 3,000 Tesla shares on August 8 to cover his short position.

The proposed class period in Isaacs' lawsuit runs from the afternoon of August 7 through the next day, and in Chamberlain's lawsuit runs from August 7 to August 10.

The cases are Isaacs v Musk et al, US District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-04865; and Chamberlain v Tesla Inc et al in the same court, No. 18-04876.
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
| Edited by: Padmaja Venkataraman
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