Famed Short Seller Sues Tesla CEO Elon Musk

US market regulators are reportedly stepping up their scrutiny of Elon Musk's claim that he has the financing to take Tesla private
AFP

Citron Research editor and short seller Andrew Left said Thursday he is filing a lawsuit against Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk for breaching U.S. securities laws.

According to a copy of the lawsuit authenticated by CNBC, Left accuses Musk of falsely claiming that funding had been secured to take Tesla as part of a scheme to intentionally manipulate the share value of the embattled electric vehicle company.

The Citron Research editor confirmed to CNBC that the lawsuit was genuine, but refused to comment further on the matter.

Labaton Sucharow LLP, a law firm representing Left, issued a press release regarding the lawsuit. “This appears to be a textbook case of fraud,” lawyer Michael Canty wrote. “We believe Musk attempted to manipulate the price of Tesla securities with false and misleading tweets, in a directed effort to harm short-sellers.”

The move comes after the erratic billionaire told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published last Friday that his reasoning behind tweeting about taking Tesla private was similar to how a Las Vegas casino operator considers risk. As Breitbart News extensively reported, Musk claimed in an August 7 tweet that he secured funding to take the Silicon Valley company private at $420 per share.

Musk told the Journal that following a productive meeting with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, he was left with the impression that raising money to take Tesla private was well within reach. Thence, even if funding had not been secured, Musk thought capital wouldn’t be markedly difficult to raise. “If the odds are probably in your favor, you should make as many decisions as possible within the bounds of what is executable,” he said, adding, “This is like being the house in Vegas. Probability is the most powerful force in the universe, which is why the house always wins. Be the house.”

In a blog post published August 24, Musk announced Tesla’s board of directors were no longer exploring proposals to take the company private. “I worked with Silver Lake, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, who have world-class expertise in these matters, to consider the many factors that would come into play in taking Tesla private, and to process all the incoming interest that we received from investors to fund a go-private transaction,” he wrote. “I also spent considerable time listening to current shareholders, large and small, to understand what they think would be in the best long-term interests of Tesla.”

Last month, investors Kalman Isaacs and William Chamberlain sued Tesla in a federal court in San Francisco, accusing Musk of inflating the company’s stock price to hurt short-sellers. “It is clear that Defendant Musk Tweeted materially false and misleading information regarding the Going Private Transaction to exact personal revenge and ‘squeeze-out’ the short-sellers who had purportedly been badgering him for months,” according to the complaint.

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