The Securities Exchange Commission, an integral branch of the US Government, is suing Elon Musk for issuing misleading Tweets which coerced investors into thinking he was taking his Tesla company private. The case is not expected to go to trial until early next year.
Musk could face a lifetime ban from running a publicly traded company. Musk has said he combats anxiety with the sleeping drug Ambien, which in tweets he has alluded to mixing with red wine, and on a recent YouTube interview he smoked marijuana and admired a samurai sword.
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The regulator charged that Musk "knew or was reckless in not knowing" that his tweets were false and misleading and that the chief executive officer tweeted the figure to impress his girlfriend, the rapper Grimes.
"If that's out there, it may be a reason why Musk did this", he continued, though he noted that the SEC often times waits for criminal prosecution before filing lawsuits of its own. Analysts have expected Tesla to raise fresh money by selling new shares. Musk had without evidence called Unsworth a "pedo guy" and "child rapist" after he had mocked Musk's plan to save the teammates with a miniature submarine.
That, in turn, could make it more hard to raise more money to stay alive, particularly in the coming months, with $1.3 billion in debt payments coming due by early next year. And it could make parts suppliers skittish about doing business with the company.
But Tesla devotees believe he is a visionary and vital to the company's future. The company's shares were down 12.3 percent at $269.72 on Friday afternoon.
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But the accord was refused, and now Tesla stock is tanking. In a now infamous tweet he wrote: "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420".
Without disputing the reference to cannabis, Musk was quick to criticize the SEC's decision to bring an enforcement action. The stock could fall further, whether or not the Securities and Exchange Commission succeeds in forcing him out as chairman and CEO.
Musk said he had done nothing wrong.
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Analysts at the bank said: 'The SEC civil action may lead to Musk's exit from Tesla, either permanently or temporarily, and the Musk premium in the shares dissipating'. He said: "I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors". That's putting intense pressure on Musk and the board to stop the bleeding.