- Elon Musk didn’t lie but used the “wrong words” in his notorious Tesla funding tweet, his lawyer argued.
- “You will come to learn very soon that this was not fraud, not even close,” Alex Spiro said.
- Tesla shareholders are suing the billionaire CEO over the tweet, claiming Musk manipulated the EV-maker’s share price.
Elon Musk didn’t lie but used the ‘wrong words’ in his Tesla funding tweet, his lawyer argued in court.
Multiple outlets reported on the news.
The trial against the Tesla CEO kicked off Wednesday over his tweet back in 2018 that he had “funding secured” to take the electric-vehicle maker private at $420 a share. The deal however never materialized and cost shareholders in the company millions of dollars.
Tesla investors sued Musk in a class-action lawsuit, claiming the billionaire manipulated the electric-vehicle maker’s share price with his notorious tweet. That’s because the automaker’s shares surged 11% in price in a matter of hours after Musk’s disclosure, before plunging as the deal got questioned.
Musk however didn’t commit fraud, his lawyer Alex Spiro argued in opening statements at the trial. “You will come to learn very soon that this was not fraud, not even close,” Spiro said, per Reuters.
“In a rush, he used the wrong words,” Spiro continued, adding that “he hadn’t planned to tweet this.”
Previously, Musk claimed he thought he had funding secured from Saudi Arabia’s Investment Fund. He said he had a handshake deal with the fund to provide the necessary money for Tesla to delist from the S&P 500. To prevent the news from leaking, Musk made a “split-second decision” to tweet he had funding secured, Spiro argued.
But lawyers representing Tesla shareholders claimed Musk should be condemned. “When the CEO of a public company like Tesla lies about his company and hurts investors, it’s critical that he is held accountable for that harm that he causes,” Nicholas Porritt, lead attorney, said in his opening statement, according to the Financial Times.
“His lies caused regular people like Glen Littleton to lose millions and millions of dollars,” he said. Littleton, who represents Tesla shareholders suing Musk chimed in during the trial too.
“I was in a state of shock during this time,” Littleton told jurors. “‘Funding secured’ is so definite to me. That was the primary driver,” he added.
“This represented a threat to my livelihood,” he continued.
Musk has garnered much attention from his sporadic tweets in the past – and market commentators like Paul Krugman say it’s hurting Tesla’s brand image.