Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s tweet from more than a month ago keeps biting him in the… well you know.
When Musk mused on Twitter on Aug. 7 about “taking tesla private at $420” it sent everyone into a tizzy.
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
And then there were the real consequences like a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and lawsuits from shareholders.
Eventually Musk called off the privatization talks, but now the electric car maker is reportedly facing possible criminal charges for fraud based on that same tweet. Bloomberg News reported Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the company.
A Tesla spokesperson said last month the DOJ requested documents in a “voluntary request” and Tesla has “been cooperative in responding to it.” The statement went on, “We have not received a subpoena, a request for testimony, or any other formal process. We respect the DOJ’s desire to get information about this and believe that the matter should be quickly resolved as they review the information they have received.”
A DOJ spokesperson wrote in an email, “The Justice Department generally does not confirm, deny or otherwise comment on the existence or non-existence of an investigation.” The DOJ’s “fraud section” says it investigates “complex white collar crime cases.”
The fact that the DOJ is investigating Tesla doesn’t guarantee any criminal charges will be filed.
Tesla stock Tuesday morning was at $280, after a precipitous drop based on the news about the looming criminal charges.