Elon Musk’s tweets are finally coming back to haunt him in a real way.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said today it has charged the Tesla CEO with securities fraud over his much-publicized tweets about potentially taking the company private—tweets the SEC has deemed false and misleading. Musk tweeted “funding secured” earlier this year in reference to the supposed plan. The company has since abandoned the idea, but the tweet led some to question Musk’s motives, especially because it caused a boost in Tesla’s stock.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Musk had not, in fact, discussed specific deal terms with potential financing partners, and he allegedly knew there was uncertainty around the plan.
“Corporate officers hold positions of trust in our markets and have important responsibilities to shareholders,” said Steven Peikin, co-director of the SEC’s enforcement division, in a statement. “An officer’s celebrity status or reputation as a technological innovator does not give license to take those responsibilities lightly.”
Reached for comment, a Tesla spokesperson sent the following statement from Musk:
“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.”
Later, Tesla sent a second statement, this one a joint statement from the company and board of directors:
“Tesla and the board of directors are fully confident in Elon, his integrity, and his leadership of the company, which has resulted in the most successful US auto company in over a century. Our focus remains on the continued ramp of Model 3 production and delivering for our customers, shareholders and employees.”
You can read the SEC’s full 23-page complaint here.