Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have requested another extension for their joint submission deadline settling a contempt charge surrounding Musk’s use of Twitter to discuss business matters. The new date requested is April 30th, the original date having been extended once already from April 18th to April 25th, as reported by CNBC.
In the last extension request, Musk, the SEC, and both of their attorneys stated that they still had yet to reach an agreement resolving the SEC’s issues with Tesla’s CEO. The agency sought to charge Musk with contempt of a prior court order after tweeting on February 19th that the all-electric car maker would produce around 500K cars this year, later clarifying that he’d meant an annualized production rate. The SEC characterized Musk’s online actions as “recklessly tweet[ing] out information that has no basis in fact” despite the information having been disclosed during Tesla’s Q4 2018 earnings call.
Needing to clarify a posted message apparently indicated to the SEC that Musk’s communications were not being reviewed. The original order behind the SEC’s contempt charge required the CEO’s tweets to be pre-approved if they were financially material for Tesla; however, Musk decides whether a tweet is material or not, something the SEC is not happy about.
An April 4th hearing on the matter faced the two parties against one another. It resulted in an order for a joint meeting to be held followed by a letter to the court indicating a resolution had been reached within two weeks, per presiding Judge Alison Nathan. If no agreement is reached, Musk’s legal team and the SEC will hear from Judge Nathan in due course.
Elon Musk’s legal council John Hueston argued against the SEC’s charges, stating that there was not a clear enough standard for contempt to justify the harsh recourse it meant, and that the SEC should have worked with Tesla and Musk in good faith to resolve any concerns first. Presiding Judge Alison Nathan agreed with Hueston’s sentiments and incorporated them into the order. Judge Nathan also told the parties to create a new agreement incorporating the SEC’s concerns that Musk’s Twitter activity was not being properly vetted.
The original issue at hand was the business magnate’s infamous “funding secured” tweet wherein he announced he was thinking of taking Tesla private at $420 per share and had the financial means to take action. In addition to implementing a tweet review system, the fallout included a $20 million dollar fine from Musk to the SEC and Musk’s stepping down as Tesla chairman for three years.