'How embarrassing': Elon Musk fired back at the SEC in latest fight over Tesla production numbers

  • Elon Musk has mocked the Securities and Exchange Commission on Twitter following the agency’s accusation that he violated the terms of his settlement.
  • Following his infamous “funding secured” tweet last year, Musk agreed to have Tesla preapprove all of his communications with shareholders concerning “material” information about the company.
  • The SEC claims Musk violated this deal when he tweeted about Tesla’s 2019 production numbers last week; he had said Tesla would produce 500,000 cars, a number on which he quickly backpedaled.
  • Musk weighed in on the SEC’s latest claim on Monday night after a fan pointed out that he’d given a production range of 350,000 to 500,000 in Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings call at the end of January.
  • Tesla’s stock was falling in premarket trading.

Elon Musk has fired back at the Securities and Exchange Commission after the agency accused him of violating his settlement following the “funding secured” tweet fiasco.

In a court filing on Monday, the SEC claimed that Musk had once again misled his investors on Twitter. Last week, Musk tweeted that Tesla would produce 500,000 cars in 2019 before quickly backpedaling, estimating the company would actually make 400,000 vehicles.

The settlement reached between Musk and the SEC in September stipulated that the company preapprove all of his communications with shareholders concerning information that’s “material” to Tesla, the SEC said.

“Musk did not seek or receive pre-approval prior to publishing this tweet, which was inaccurate and disseminated to over 24 million people,” the SEC said in its filing.

The agency asked a judge to hold Musk in contempt of the federal court that approved that settlement. Following the SEC’s filing, Tesla’s stock fell about 3% in premarket trading.

Musk weighed in on Twitter later Monday night after a fan pointed to Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings call. In the January 30 call, Musk answered a question from an analyst about how many Model 3s the company expected to produce in 2019.

“Maybe in the order of 350,000 to 500,000 Model 3s, something like that this year,” Musk said.

He signed off the Monday-night tweet with the phrase “how embarrassing” and the hug emoji. “I have great respect for judges,” he later added. “It’s not perfect, but, in general, we should be very glad of the US justice system.”

Musk’s position echoed that of the Tesla lawyer Bradley Bondi, who pointed to the earnings-call forecast in correspondence with the SEC. But the agency rebuffed him.

“Musk’s claim that he thought he was simply restating information from the January 30 communications is not credible,” the SEC said.”Musk is the CEO of Tesla and undoubtedly familiar with the details of Tesla’s production projections.”

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