Less than a week after meeting with Elon Musk and his legal team at Judge Alison Nathan’s Manhattan chambers, the Securities and Exchange Commission is throwing shade towards the Tesla CEO once more. In a recent statement, SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson argued that the agency’s request to hold Musk in contempt due to his February 19 Twitter post was “reasonable.”
The SEC’s latest remarks about the Tesla CEO was related on Monday in Washington. While addressing reporters, Jackson stated that the point of the contempt case is to have future oversight, while preventing Musk from continuing his inappropriate Twitter behavior. “The idea (is) that we would have future oversight to prevent future problems from recurring,” the SEC Commissioner said.
During the hearing, SEC attorney Cheryl Crumpton argued that Musk has not expressed any initiative to follow the terms of his agreement with the agency, which required that tweets with material information be reviewed before they are posted. As punishment for his alleged violation of his settlement, Crumpton called on the court to give Musk a series of escalating fines. The SEC also asked the court to order Musk to report monthly as a way to show his compliance with the settlement.
Judge Nathan, for her part, announced after hearing the arguments of the SEC and Musk’s legal team that the two sides to must arrange a meeting and send a letter to the court within two weeks. If the two sides could not reach an agreement by then, the judge noted that the SEC and the Tesla CEO’s legal team will hear from her in due course.
Commenting on the results of the hearing, the SEC Commissioner stated that the judge took very “reasonable” steps. “I understand those who are skeptical and who feel that it’s innovative relief – to me, it was important relief and I thought enforcement took very reasonable steps, both to the nature of the relief and our oversight of that relief,” Jackson said.
Elon Musk and the SEC’s latest row resulted from a tweet posted on February 19, where Musk indicated that Tesla will produce “around 500K” cars in 2019. The statement echoed one of the CEO’s statements from the first quarter earnings call, when he estimated that Tesla could produce “maybe in the order of 350,000 to 500,000 Model 3s” this year. Musk posted a follow up to his tweet a few hours after, explaining that the ~500K figure corresponds to the company’s annual run rate.
The SEC promptly jumped on Musk’s tweet, particularly as the message did not pass through a review process. The agency argued that the post violated Musk’s settlement terms last year, which required tweets with material information to be reviewed before they are posted. Musk’s legal team contests this claim, stating that the post simply echoed a forecast that had been publicly known since the Q4 2018 earnings call.
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