Former Tesla Australia director sentenced after pleading guilty to insider trading

Australia’s corporate watchdog noted on Tuesday that Kurt Schlosser, the former head of Tesla’s Australian operations, had received a two-year and six-month prison sentence for insider trading. The former executive, however, was released immediately on the condition of “good behavior.”

“Mr. Schlosser was sentenced to two years and six months imprisonment, to be released immediately upon entering into a recognizance, on the condition that he be of good behavior for two years and six months,” the ASIC noted in its announcement

As part of his conviction, Schlosser is also barred from managing corporations for five years. 

As per the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the former director’s guilty pleas to two insider trading offenses led to his sentence. The ASIC had previously noted that Schlosser had purchased 86,748 shares in Piedmont Lithium in September 2020. This was after he was reportedly informed of the details of a five-year deal for spodumene concentrate between the EV maker and the miner.

As per ASIC, Schlosser later sold his shares in Piedmont for a profit. The former Tesla Australia director reportedly sold his shares and profited about $28,883 once the agreement between the electric vehicle maker and Piedmont was announced.

The ASIC described the former Tesla executive’s actions as follows. 

“In his role as country director of Tesla Australia, Mr Schlosser was informed of a confidential, in-principle agreement to be entered into by Tesla Inc in the United States of America. The agreement related to the supply of lithium to Tesla Inc by Piedmont Lithium Ltd, a company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

“Mr. Schlosser then purchased 86,478 shares in Piedmont Lithium Ltd in two transactions and also communicated that inside information to a friend in circumstances where it was likely that person would also acquire Piedmont Lithium Ltd shares. Mr Schlosser, shortly after the announcement was made public, sold the shares for a realized profit of $28,883.53.”

The former Tesla executive also reportedly informed a friend that acquiring Piedmont shares would be a good idea “in circumstances where it was likely,” as noted in a Reuters report.

ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court issued a comment about the matter. 

“ASIC is committed to acting against conduct that damages the integrity of Australia’s financial markets. Insider trading undermines investor confidence and gives individuals an unfair advantage. This criminal outcome demonstrates the serious consequences for trading when in possession of inside information,” Court said. 

Piedmont, for his part, has declined to issue a comment on the former Tesla executive’s sentence. “We do not comment on the legal proceedings of individuals or other companies,” the miner noted. Tesla has also not issued a comment about the matter. 

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Former Tesla Australia director sentenced after pleading guilty to insider trading
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