The skirmish between Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) continued on Monday, with the agency calling on NY Judge Alison Nathan to make a decision on the case without holding a hearing for the Tesla CEO. The SEC’s latest request comes on the heels of Musk’s response last Friday, when his legal team noted that the agency’s position is “wrong at virtually every level.”
The SEC argued in its recent request to the NY judge that there is no ambiguity to the terms of the settlement it reached with Musk last year. The agency accused the CEO of muddling the matter at hand due to his “selective omission of certain settlement communications” in his team’s filings last Friday, where Musk defended his actions.
With these factors in mind, the SEC noted that Judge Nathan should be able to decide whether Musk violated the terms of his settlement or not without holding a hearing. “There are no material issues of disputed fact,” the SEC wrote. The SEC added that it was willing to provide more written information on its settlement negotiations with the Tesla CEO if Judge Nathan needs additional information.
It should be noted that the SEC’s recent request was filed after Musk’s legal team submitted a response last Friday. Musk’s lawyers did not hold back in their criticism of the SEC, stating that “The key question is whether Musk complied with Tesla’s Policy, not whether the SEC is satisfied with Tesla’s Policy.”
Musk’s team argued that the SEC laywers misinterpreted the deal he struck with them last September, stating that “the SEC’s reply makes clear that its effort to hold Musk in contempt relies on a radical reinterpretation of the Order that would impose sweeping restrictions to which Musk never consented.” The lawyers also noted that the information listed on Musk’s tweet, which estimated that Tesla would produce around 500,000 vehicles in 2019, was already public information following the CEO’s similar estimates in the first quarter earnings call.
“Musk’s belief that his tweet did not require pre-approval was correct. Every hallmark of immateriality is present: the tweet restated previously-disclosed information, used generalized terms, was aspirational and optimistic, and caused no reaction in after-hours trading,” Musk’s legal team wrote.
The SEC and Elon Musk’s latest row resulted from a tweet posted by the CEO on February 19, when he noted that Tesla made no cars in 2011, but will make “around 500K” this year. Musk later explained his tweet in a follow-up post, stating that the 500,000 estimate was true for the annualized run rate for Tesla’s 2019 production. The SEC seized on the opportunity, stating that the tweet was a violation of Musk’s settlement last September since it contained material information to the company and its shareholders.
In its request to hold Musk in contempt of court, the SEC pointed out that the February 19 tweet was not reviewed by corporate authorities. Musk, for his part, has argued that the SEC is “over-reaching” in its reactions against him, considering that the information he presented was a reiteration of public information, and it did not affect Tesla stock at all.