Tesla short seller Jim Chanos hit with lawsuit from partner over alleged fund misuse

Credit: Philip Powerss/X

Aggressive Tesla short seller Jim Chanos has been sued by a partner who is accusing the famed short-seller of using company funds for his personal use. 

Conlon Holdings, an investment firm that invested in Chanos’ firm in 2020, alleged that the famed short-seller treated the company “like a piggy bank” for personal gain, as noted in a Bloomberg News report. The lawsuit was filed in New York State court over the weekend. 

Conlon Holdings’ complaint centered on $10 million in loans that Chanos reportedly borrowed from his firm, Chanos & Co. (formerly known as Kynikos Associates), over more than a decade. Conlon alleged that the short-seller “never intended on paying the company back, but instead planned on using his power as general partner to run the company into the ground, enjoy the tax benefits of his financial shenanigans, and leave his partners with nothing.”

The suit further claimed that Chanos had sold a luxury Miami apartment owned by Chanos & Co. for $17.8 million without informing his partners. The sale reportedly resulted in Chanos’ girlfriend, Crystal Conners — who was the sales agent in the deal — earning $540,000 in commission. “In other words, Chanos not only sold the company’s property but did so in a way that he could pay his girlfriend more than half a million dollars of money that did not belong to him,” the suit noted. 

Jim Chanos, for his part, has denied the allegations, dubbing Conlon’s lawsuit as ”puzzling and baseless.” “The facts will show that the internal loan in question from the company was paid off in 2021,” he noted. Interestingly enough, Chanos’ former chief financial officer Brian Nichols noted in an affidavit that his boss acknowledged that the loan was still outstanding as part of his tax return in 2022. 

Conlon Holdings is looking to prevent Chanos from accessing the proceeds from the Miami apartment sale. Conlon is also demanding that Chanos be removed as general partner of his firm.

Chanos’ fame stemmed from successfully shorting Enron stock in 2000. He was also one of Tesla’s most aggressive critics, announcing in 2017 that he believed the electric vehicle maker’s equity was worthless, and that his price target for TSLA stock was zero. By 2018, Chanos claimed that the Model 3 was “looking to be a lemon.” 

Needless to say, Chanos was unsuccessful in his efforts to short Tesla, and last year, he announced that he was closing his fund. His fund has gotten substantially smaller, dropping to less than $200 million in 2023 from $8 billion in 2008. Elon Musk, for his part, commented on Chanos’ recent legal troubles, noting that the short seller did not just bet against Tesla — he also pushed false narratives that the media embraced. 

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Tesla short seller Jim Chanos hit with lawsuit from partner over alleged fund misuse
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