A Tesla whistleblower says the electric car maker's security team is staffed with former members of a notorious group from Uber that allegedly spied on rivals

  • Some former members of a notorious security team at Uber are now allegedly employed by Tesla.
  • They include Nick Gicinto, who reportedly is the new head of security at Tesla.
  • At Uber, Gicinto allegedly led a team of former CIA case officers who hacked into rivals’ computers and secretly recorded their conversations.
  • At Tesla, Gicinto and his team allegedly spied on employees and hushed up a drug-trafficking investigation.
  • The allegations about the Uber team working at Tesla were made by Karl Hansen, a former Tesla employee who has filed a whistleblower tip with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Several” employees in Tesla’s security department – including the company’s head of security – were previously a part of a similar team at Uber that allegedly stole data from rivals, hacked into their computer systems, and recorded their private conversations, according to a former employee of the electric-vehicle company who filed a whistleblower tip earlier this month with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

At Tesla, those employees were part of a group that spied on employees’ personal cell-phone communications and hid from shareholders a theft of raw materials and a drug trafficking ring at the company’s battery factory in Nevada, Karl Hansen, a former member of Tesla’s security team, alleged in the tip, according to a statement put out Thursday by his lawyer.

“The security personnel accused of engaging in these tactics at Uber were hired by Tesla this year despite the revelation of a purported investigation by the US Attorney’s Office in San Francisco … [into] the actions related to the Uber security team,” Meissner Associates, the law firm representing Hansen, said in the statement.

CNBC first reported Hansen’s allegations about the former Uber team now working for Tesla.

Hansen investigated links between Tesla employees and Mexican drug cartels

While at Tesla, Hansen investigated the links between company employees at its so-called Gigafactory battery production facility and Mexican drug cartel, according to the statement from his attorney. He reported his findings in June to his three supervisors, which included two former Uber employees, one of whom was Nick Gicinto, Tesla’s new head of security who reported directly to CEO Elon Musk, according to the statement.

Hansen alleged that Tesla failed to inform the US Drug Enforcement Agency of his findings and didn’t fire the employees linked to the cartel. He also alleged Musk and the security team didn’t disclose to the company’s board directors and shareholders how it handled the drug trafficking investigation.

At Uber, Gicinto was in charge of the app-based taxi company’s Strategic Services Group, according to a letter submitted in December by a former Uber employee in the company’s legal dispute with Waymo, Google’s self-driving car spinoff. Gicinto staffed the Strategic Services Group with CIA-trained case officers and used them to spy on competitors, according to that letter.

Hansen was fired by Tesla in July, according to the statement from his lawyer. He’s the second whistleblower to come forward in the last two months, following Martin Tripp. Hansen alleged that the Tesla security team spied specifically on Tripp, including, potentially, after he left the company.

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