A judge just set a deadline for Elon Musk to defend himself against the SEC's claims that he is in contempt of court

A federal judge has ordered Tesla CEO Elon Musk to explain by March 11 why he should not be held in contempt of court, Reuters reported Tuesday.

On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission – the US’s top stock market regulator – accused Musk of violating his agreement with the agency stemming from his failed attempt to take the automaker private.

The SEC claims that $US20 million settlement was breached last week when Musk tweeted projected production numbers for Tesla that differed from the company’s regulatory disclosures. Musk clarified his tweet after a few hours.

“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 a filing with the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

“Musk has thus violated the court’s final judgment by engaging in the very conduct that the pre-approval provision of the final judgment was designed to prevent.”

A Tesla representative on Monday declined to comment on the SEC filing.

Musk has shown little sign of backing down, echoing his past disputes with the federal regulator.

“SEC forgot to read Tesla earnings transcript, which clearly states 350k to 500k. How embarrassing …,” Musk tweeted Monday evening. He followed that Tuesday morning by saying “something is broken” at the SEC.

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