New York City, Jan 18 (EFE).- Elon Musk’s tweet in 2018 about considering taking Tesla private, for which he has been sued for fraud, was rushed and may have included the wrong words but it was not aimed at deceiving anyone, his lawyers said Wednesday.
“This was not fraud, not even close,” Alex Spiro said during opening statements at the trial underway in San Francisco, in which a group of investors are seeking multimillion-dollar compensation for the damages that they claim the tweet caused them.
Spiro acknowledged that the tweet in question contained some “inaccuracies” that he attributed to the speed with which it was published after Elon learned of a leak about his plan and given the informal nature of social media.
“Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured,” said the controversial tweet in which Musk referred to the price per share he could offer in the transaction, which would have valued the company at about $72 billion.
Spiro said that the Tesla CEO used the “wrong words,” but what he was looking for was to offer maximum transparency.
The term “funding secured”, he argued, sought to underline that money would not be a problem to move forward with the operation, which depended on the approval of the shareholders of the electric vehicle maker.
The plaintiffs accuse Musk of lying about this alleged funding and claim that this statement caused swings in Tesla’s shares that cost them billions of dollars.
Spiro said that the magnate had a verbal agreement with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund to finance the plan to take Tesla out of the stock market and that his tweet reflected that reality.
He also said that Musk’s claim that he had secured funding was not what caused the swings in the price of the firm’s shares, which soared after the tweet and tanked later.
Musk is expected to take the stand during the three-week trial.
US District Judge Edward Chen, who is overseeing the trial, had ruled last year that Musk’s 2018 tweets on taking Tesla private were false and misleading.
Musk was also sued for fraud in 2018 by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after his tweets.
The case was settled after Musk agreed to pay a $20 million fine and step down as Tesla’s chairman for three years although he continued as CEO. EFE