"This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed. I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors. Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way," Musk said.
The SEC filed a lawsuit against Musk on Thursday, alleging that Musk made "false and misleading statements" in August about taking the automaker private. The agency said in the lawsuit that it seeks to bar Musk from being an officer or director of a public company.
On August 7, Musk said that he had "funding secured" to convert Tesla into a private company at $420 per share and only needed a shareholder vote to confirm a go-private deal. In its lawsuit, the SEC alleges that Musk had not acquired the necessary funding or even discussed the terms he mentioned with any potential funding sources.
The SEC allegations are the culmination of a season of near-constant insanity around Tesla. The company was already under a lot of pressure — and being investigated by the SEC for other statements and claims — back in May when it reported a predictable, yet smaller, loss than analysts expected.
Shares actually traded up briefly in after-hours action, until Musk flipped out in response to questions from two analysts on a conference call. The stock was immediately crushed.
In 2017, Tesla shares had pushed toward $400, but in 2018 they'd been sliding in the first quarter. Absent Musk's comments, however, it looked as if the markets might take a wait-and-see attitude toward the company in the second and third quarters, as the carmaker worked out its May production issues with its Model 3 sedan.
But that did happen, and Q1 earnings were simply round one.
Round two arrived with second-quarter earnings in early August. Another big loss, but Tesla's revenues were starting to look like they might be poised for a takeoff; shares gained strength.
Then came the now-infamous and perhaps ruinous "take private" tweet, about a week later. The stock took off, but then declined again as it became apparent that Musk's goal to enlist the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and existing Tesla investors in the plan lacked substance. The whole thing was subsequently called off after Musk consulted with the Tesla board.
Musk also accused a diver involved with the Thai cave rescue of a youth soccer team of being a paedophile and he smoked pot on a podcast.
If you weren't exhausted by this point, you should have been. Meanwhile, before Thursday's SEC lawsuit news broke, Tesla's stock price was roughly back where it began in May, before the hot summer of madness broke out.
- Additional reporting by Matthew DeBord
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