Tesla said in a Monday morning filing with the SEC that it was subpoenaed by the agency regarding information related to the company’s governance processes and compliance surrounding a Tweet from CEO Elon Musk in November 2021. The Tweet, which polled Musk’s Twitter followers on whether he should sell 10 percent of his Tesla holdings, may have violated the SEC settlement, which was agreed upon by both entities following Musk’s “funding secured” Tweet from 2018.
In 2018, Musk tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share, which led to a lengthy feud with the SEC. Ultimately, Tesla and the agency reached a settlement that required two $2om fines, one from Tesla and another from Musk. Additionally, Musk was required to step down as the company’s Chairman, Tesla was required to appoint two new members to its board, and the automaker was required to “establish a new committee of independent directors and put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications.”
In a 10-K filing with the SEC, Tesla stated the SEC subpoenaed additional information in November 2021. The company was required to turn over more information on “our governance processes around compliance with the SEC settlement, as amended.”
The subpoena was likely triggered by Musk’s November 6 Tweet that asked his tens of millions of followers on Twitter whether he should sell 10 percent of his $TSLA stake. “Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock,” Musk tweeted last year. The poll accumulated over 3.5 million votes, with 57.9 percent of the respondents supporting Musk’s stock sale. He offloaded shares incrementally, with the final filing being submitted on December 28.
The Twitter Poll may have violated the 2018 settlement, and Tesla is complying with the SEC’s demands.
Reuters suggests in its report of the subpoena that Tesla now has additional pressure from regulatory agencies, as the new SEC investigation also combines with the NHTSA’s probe into its advanced driver assistance safety features, Autopilot and its Full Self-Driving suite.
In December, the same Twitter Poll that Musk used to determine his future stock sale endeavors was the subject of a lawsuit against Tesla from institutional investors. “It is unclear who at Tesla, if anyone, is currently reviewing Musk’s tweets,” the lawsuit claimed. “Musk remains undeterred and continues to post on Twitter and social media on matters that are material to Tesla and its stockholders, and which ultimately have an impact on Tesla’s stock prices.” Musk was not formally listed as a defendant in the complaint.
Disclosure: Joey Klender is a TSLA Shareholder.
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