Elon Musk is on trial for allegedly defrauding investors by writing on Twitter that he had secured money to take his company Tesla private.
Elon Musk testified that he was certain he received backing from Saudi financiers in 2018 to privatize Tesla Inc, as he defended against allegations that he defrauded investors investors by tweeting afterwards about his electric car company.
At a experiment In U.S. federal court in San Francisco, California on Monday, Musk told investors’ attorney Nicholas Porritt that he met on July 31, 2018 with representatives of the sovereign wealth fund. Saudi Arabia, Public Investment Fund (PIF), in Tesla’s Fremont. , California factory.
Musk said he did not discuss the acquisition price, but the Saudi representative made it clear that they will do what is necessary for the acquisition to take place.
“PIF clearly wants to take Tesla private,” he said.
The trial examines Musk’s preference for using Twitter to voice his sometimes irreverent views and when the world’s second-richest person could be held liable if the line was crossed.
At stake are millions of dollars for shareholders who claimed they were at a loss after Musk tweeted on August 7, 2018 that he had “guaranteed funding” to take Tesla private at $420 a share and that “investor support has been confirmed.”
Tesla’s stock price spiked after Musk’s tweet, and then dropped when it became clear the buyback wasn’t going to happen.
A jury of nine will decide Did the billionaire artificially inflate Tesla’s stock price? by touting the prospect of acquisition, and if so, how much.
The plaintiffs overcame high legal hurdles in a rare securities class action lawsuit, with US Judge Edward Chen ruling last May that Musk’s post was dishonest and reckless .
But in testimony on Monday, Musk said he believes he can sell enough shares of rocket company SpaceX to fund the acquisition and “feels funding secured” with just SpaceX stock. .
‘Not a joke’
Musk has also been sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over tweets, resulting in a total payment of $40 million to him and Tesla, and a requirement for Tesla attorneys to pre-screen some of his tweets. he.
The SEC alleges that Musk rounded up the alleged buyback offer from $419 to $420 a share because he recently learned of the “importance in cannabis culture” of the higher amount. and thought his girlfriend would find it funny.
Musk denied thinking so.
“It was chosen because it was 20% above the stock price,” he testified. “The $420 price tag is no joke.”
Musk testified calmly, in contrast to his infrequently belligerent testimony in previous trials.
He began testifying on Friday, telling jurors that although Twitter, which he bought in October, was the most democratic way of communicating, his tweets were not always affects Tesla stock in the way he expected.
“Just because I tweet something doesn’t mean people believe it or will act accordingly,” Musk said.
Alex Spiro, Musk’s attorney, said in his opening statement last week that Musk believes he has financial resources from Saudi Arabia and has attempted to protect “day-to-day shareholders” from leaks in the vehicle. communicate by tweeting, even though his tweets are “technically incorrect”.
The defendants also include current and former Tesla executives, who Spiro said had “pure” motives in reacting to Musk’s plans.