By Don Reisinger
March 12, 2019

Elon Musk is defiant in the face of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) allegations that he violated an agreement he signed with the agency last year.

In a court filing on Monday, Musk said that a tweet in February discussing how many cars Tesla will ship this year failed to violate his SEC agreement because, in part, it was “immaterial” to his company’s performance. Musk’s attorneys said in the filing, which was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal, that the tweet “was simply Musk’s shorthand gloss on and entirely consistent with prior public disclosures detailing Tesla’s anticipated production volume.” The attorneys called it “celebratory and forward-looking.”

The kerfuffle started in February, when Musk wrote that in 2011, Tesla hadn’t produced any cars. But by the end of 2019, Musk said, Tesla would produce 500,000 vehicles. A few hours later, he worked with a Tesla attorney to revise the earlier tweet and say that the 500,000-unit figure was an “annualized production rate” that meant Tesla is now producing 10,000 cars per week. The company will likely end 2019 with 400,000 vehicles produced in the calendar year.

Soon after, the SEC filed a contempt complaint against Musk, alleging that he violated an agreement the parties signed last year requiring him to get approval on any tweets he might send that are material to Tesla. That agreement, which came after Musk said he was considering taking Tesla private, also included a requirement that he no longer serve as Tesla’s board chairman.

Since that agreement, Musk has been critical of the SEC and taken shots at the agency. In the court filing, Musk’s attorneys argued that the contempt accusation might have been more about those barbs and hurt feelings than the offending tweet.

“Undeterred, and perhaps embarrassed by Musk’s criticism of it, the SEC urges the court to read and apply the order in an unconstitutional manner,” his attorneys wrote.

Neither the SEC nor Tesla immediately responded to a Fortune request for comment on the latest filing.

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