Monday, 22 October, 2018

Elon Musk taunts SEC days after fraud settlement

Wil James Murdoch be the new Chairman of Tesla? Elon Musk Twitter swipe at US markets regulator: 'Shortseller Enrichment Commission'
Cristina Norman | 07 October, 2018, 08:44

A NY district court judge has asked Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to provide a joint statement by October 11, explaining why their settlement should be approved.

The SEC has responded by denying any plans for a name change, but won't be drawn on the content of the Tweet.

But Musk apparently was done venting about his frustrations with the securities market, taking aim a few hours later at the investors who are short selling his company's stock. Per the terms of the settlement: "Tesla will establish a new committee of independent directors and put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk's communications".

The SEC's complaint said that Musk "falsely indicated" that he could "take Tesla private at a purchase price that reflected a substantial premium over Tesla stock's then-current share price, that funding for this multi-billion dollar transaction had been secured, and that the only contingency was a shareholder vote". The share price climbed as much as 11pc and by the close of play, Tesla's value had jumped by $6.3bn (£4.9bn) and Mr Musk was $1.2bn richer.

Musk renamed the SEC in a tweet as the Shortseller Enrichment Commission. But that doesn't mean Tesla's board can't order Musk to tone done his Twitter act in the best interests of the company.

In addition to Tesla, Musk is also CEO of SpaceX, The Boring Company, and Neuralink.

The tweets may imperil a deal struck with the SEC on Saturday - which isn't final - that bars Musk from serving as chairman of the carmaker for three years as punishment for problematic posts he sent about taking Tesla private.

"The SEC stayed away [from] the broader corporate governance and management issues", Turner said.

The accord must still be approved by a judge and hasn't yet taken effect. The commission seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement, civil penalties and to prohibit Musk from serving as an officer or director of a public company. Musk resigned as Chairman of the company, but remains the CEO and will have to pay a fine.

"Mr. Musk has excellent attorneys", said Marc Leaf, a partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath in NY who used to work for the SEC as an adviser to a commissioner. Ryan White, an SEC spokesman, declined to comment.

His extraordinary slap at federal regulators comes as U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan said on Thursday that Musk and the SEC would have one week to justify their settlement to resolve securities fraud charges against the CEO.

Former federal prosecutor Jay Hulings said in a report by CNBC: "It's odd given the nature of this settlement".

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