Nikola Motor founder and former CEO Trevor Milton had a new wire fraud charge added by U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday in a case that intends to find whether he misled investors by lying about the capabilities of his company’s products when he was at the helm. Milton is also attempting to block evidence of his “wealth” and “lifestyle” in the case.
The new fraud charge has to do with Milton’s alleged scheme from April 2020 to March 2021 that defrauded the sellers of Wasatch Creek Ranch. The charge claims Milton defrauded the sellers by making false statements about Nikola and its products, according to Reuters.
U.S. ACCUSES MILTON OF SCHEMING TO DEFRAUD SELLERS OF A PROPERTY KNOWN AS WASATCH CREEKS RANCH BY MAKING FALSE AND MISLEADING STATEMENTS ABOUT NIKOLA https://t.co/oWt53qBAHT
— *Walter Bloomberg (@DeItaone) June 22, 2022
Additionally, Milton asked a federal judge to block evidence related to “wealth, lifestyle, and spending habits,” according to a separate report. Milton’s lawyers filed with the court on Monday that the evidence should be excluded from the trial because it could cause the jury to be “unfairly prejudicial.”
In July 2021, Milton was indicted on two counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud. He pled not guilty.
Nikola admitted in February 2021 that Milton misled investors by lying on nine separate occasions in a 10-K filing with the SEC. Nikola said in the filing that Milton made statements that were “inaccurate in whole or in part, when made.” It then listed nine different times that Milton openly lied about the company or its products, including a 2016 fabrication that the Nikola One, a Semi truck, was a fully functioning vehicle. Milton also said in 2020 that stated five vehicles were rolling off production lines at a facility in Ulm, Germany. These were false, according to Nikola’s 10-K.
Nikola has moved forward since Milton’s removal from the company and has started production and deliveries of the Tre semi-truck, and continues to make hints that it could end up developing its own battery packs.
Milton’s trial is scheduled for July 18 in federal court in Manhattan.
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