Securities regulators have accused Tesla CEO Elon Musk of misleading investors with false statements, in a move that could result in his removal from the electric car company he helped launch 15 years ago.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York, the Securities and Exchange Commission accuses Musk of committing fraud through public statements that hurt investors.
At issue was Musk’s tweet last month that he had secured funding and was thinking about taking the company private. That sent the company’s stock soaring, jumping 10% on the day of the social media blast
Contrary to his claims, Musk “knew that he had never discussed a going-private transaction at $420 per share with any potential funding source,” the SEC claims in its suit.
The SEC seeks to bar Musk from serving as an executive or director of a publicly traded company.
“This unjustified action by the S.E.C. leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed,” Musk said in a statement released by Tesla. “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.”
Tesla is not named in the suit, through the news caused more turmoil for the automaker, which has struggled to meet production targets for its mass-market Model 3 sedan and has yet to turn an annual profit.
The company’s shares tumbled nearly 12% in after-hours trading, falling to $270.90 a share.