Elon Musk has been charged with securities fraud by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after tweeting plans to take Tesla Inc. private

By Robyn Merrett
September 27, 2018 08:33 PM
Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Kiichiro Sato/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been charged with securities fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The charges stem from a tweet the 47-year-old billionaire wrote in August, which detailed plans to take Tesla private.

“Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured,” Musk wrote. According to the SEC’s complaint, Musk’s tweet stirred up significant confusion among investors and “caused Tesla’s stock price to jump over six percent,” the SEC revealed in a press release.

The complaint also claims Musk’s plans were not discussed “with any potential financing partners, and he allegedly knew that the potential transaction was uncertain and subject to numerous contingencies.”

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“Corporate officers hold positions of trust in our markets and have important responsibilities to shareholders,” Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division Steven Peikin said.

“An officer’s celebrity status or reputation as a technological innovator does not give license to take those responsibilities lightly.”

Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division Stephanie Avakian added, “Taking care to provide truthful and accurate information is among a CEO’s most critical obligations.”

“That standard applies with equal force when the communications are made via social media or another non-traditional form.”

In addition, the SEC’s complaint is asking that Musk be dismissed as CEO as he “violated antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws, and seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement, civil penalties, and a bar prohibiting Musk from serving as an officer or director of a public company.”

The investigation is still ongoing.

Musk addressed the charges in a statement to PEOPLE, “This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed.”

“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.”