Elon Musk appeared Friday, January 20, in federal court in San Francisco during a trial where he is accused of fraud by investors for having tweeted, more than four years ago, that he intended to take Tesla out of the Sotck exchange.
Dark suit, white shirt and tie, he defended for half an hour his way of communicating on Twitter and his achievements at the head of the automotive group. His testimony is due to continue on Monday.
Elon Musk had created amazement on August 7, 2018 by saying that he wanted to withdraw his group from the Stock Exchange at a price of 420 dollars per share, since the financing was ” secure “.
Tesla shares jumped to $386.48 shortly after. On August 16, it was down to $335.45, according to the figures given to the jury on Tuesday by Judge Edward Chen, far from the $420 per share mentioned by Musk.
“Elon Musk lied, and his lies cost people millions of dollars”launched Wednesday Nicholas Porritt, lawyer of the plaintiffs gathered in a class action.
“They want Tesla dead”
These downward speculations “should be illegal”asserted for his part Mr. Musk, questioned by Mr. Porritt about his opinion concerning this type of investor.
“These are bad people stealing money from small investors. They want Tesla dead and they’ll do anything to kill businesses, it’s evil.”he continued for the jury.
His lawyer Alexander Spiro assured Wednesday that Elon Musk had every intention of taking Tesla out of the stock market and had no doubts about its financing capabilities, thanks to assurances from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. The tweet was written “hastily”the choice of words was ” careless “but “It’s not a fraud”he hammered.
On Friday, the plaintiffs’ lawyer sought to show that the Tesla CEO and his entourage were well aware of the consequences of his unbridled volubility on Twitter. He referred to one of his tweets from July 2018, when he discussed “pedo guy” a British speleologist who had criticized him.
“Have you taken a break from Twitter? »Mr. Porritt asked, referring to advice to that effect from a senior Tesla official and an investor. ” I do not think so “replied the billionaire.
“False and misleading”
The trial is expected to last three weeks. In a previous decision related to this case, a judge ruled that the infamous 2018 tweet could be considered “false and misleading”.
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The manufacturer had quickly abandoned the idea of leaving the rating. But the American stock market policeman, the SEC, believing that Mr. Musk had not provided proof of his financing, had imposed on him to cede the chairmanship of the board of directors of Tesla and to pay a fine of 20 million dollars.
He later demanded that his tweets directly related to Tesla’s business be pre-approved by a competent lawyer.
“Elon Musk sees this lawsuit as a way to have this decision of the SEC reconsidered”commented Josh White, former economist of the federal agency. “He thinks he did nothing wrong and he has the right to say what he wants on Twitter. »