Tesla CEO Elon Musk fights to regain control of Twitter handle, claims it won’t be used for stock fraud


The controversial businessman says he was unfairly coerced by the US Securities and Exchange Commission to cede editorial control of his Twitter account in 2018, and claims he never has – and never will – use it to manipulate the market.


Tesla CEO Elon Musk is attempting to wrangle back editorial control of his Twitter handle from a major US government agency – however, promises any new-found freedoms won’t be used to manipulate the market.

In 2018 the controversial businessman Tweeted false claims to his 62 million followers that he had secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 per share, immediately sending stock prices surging more than 10 per cent.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – which is the peak watchdog for market manipulation in the USA – subsequently charged Mr Musk with stock fraud, believing this had been intentionally done to mislead investors and boost funding during a period of extreme financial insecurity at Tesla and risk of bankruptcy.

A settlement was reached which, in part, required the CEO to have all Tweets which could potentially influence the electric car maker’s valuation vetted by the SEC before they were published.

However, Elon Musk now wants to be freed from the clause and claims he was coerced unfairly into entering the agreement.

“Despite this, the SEC’s unrelenting regulatory pressure, combined with the attendant collateral consequence of the SEC’s complaint against me, caused a scenario in which I was forced to sign the consent decree in 2018 … Protracted litigation was not in the interests of the company and its shareholders.

“I never lied to shareholders. I would never lie to shareholders. I entered the consent decree for the survival of Tesla, for the sake of its shareholders.”

In the filing, Tesla lawyers claim an agreement had been finalised in 2018 with the Saudi Arabian Sovereign Wealth Fund to take Tesla private. He claims a last minute decision was made to not privatise the company, following “shareholder feedback.”

While no evidence was provided showing this to be accurate, the company argues this is irrelevant because “there is ample evidence that Mr. Musk believed his statements were true.”

Lawyers in the USA have told several major media outlets the appeal is unlikely to be successful. This story will be updated when new information becomes available.

Earlier this year Elon Musk’s brother Kimbal sold $108 million worth of his own Tesla stock one day before his older brother polled Twitter on if he should sell 10 per cent of his stake in the company, leading the SEC to investigate the duo for evidence of insider trading. This case is yet to be resolved.

William Davis has written for Drive since July 2020, covering news and current affairs in the automotive industry. He has maintained a primary focus on industry trends, autonomous technology, electric vehicle regulations, and local environmental policy. As the newest addition to the Drive team, William was brought onboard for his attention to detail, writing skills, and strong work ethic. Despite writing for a diverse range of outlets – including the Australian Financial Review, Robb Report, and Property Observer – since completing his media degree at Macquarie University, William has always had a passion for cars.

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