US judge determines Elon Musk’s 2018 tweets were inaccurate and reckless


US judge determines Elon Musk’s 2018 tweets were inaccurate and reckless

Tesla’s CEO had tweeted that the company had secured financing from Saudi Arabia and would be taken private

A US judge has determined that Elon Musk’s 2018 tweets that funding had been secured to take electric car maker Tesla private was inaccurate and reckless, saying “there was nothing concrete” about financing from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund at that time.

San Francisco-based US district judge Edward Chen’s pre-trial decision represented a major victory for investors in a lawsuit accusing the world’s richest person of inflating stock prices by making false and misleading statements, causing billions of dollars in damages.

Chen granted the shareholders summary judgment on the issue of whether Musk knowingly made false statements but declined to grant them summary judgment on the question of whether these statements actually impacted Tesla’s share prices.

In 2018, Musk met with representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and had a discussion about taking Tesla private, but evidence showed that “there was nothing concrete about funding coming from the PIF”, the judge wrote.

“Rather, discussions between Tesla and the PIF were clearly at the preliminary stage,” Chen said.

“No reasonable jury could find that Mr Musk did not act recklessly given his clear knowledge of the discussions,” the judge added.

Chen said details such as the total amount of funding needed to take Tesla private or the price to be paid for Tesla stock were not discussed.

The summary judgment, made on 1 April, was sealed for more than a month before it was made publicly available on Tuesday.

“It is hugely significant,” shareholder attorney Nicholas Porritt, a partner at Levi & Korsinsky LLP told Reuters.

Porritt said it is rare that a judge decides that a defendant knowingly made false statements in summary judgment before a jury trial begins. The remaining issue is what damages the intentionally false statement has caused to shareholders, Porritt said.




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