SEC says Elon Musk's tweet about Tesla vehicle production was a 'blatant violation' of court order to have his tweets vetted before publishing

elon musk

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission filed its rebuttal to Elon Musk’s response to the agency’s contempt-of-court claim against the Tesla CEO.
  • The Monday filing says a tweet Musk sent in February claiming that Tesla would produce 500,000 vehicles in 2019 was a “blatant violation” of a court order to appoint a “Twitter czar” who would vet his tweets for information material to Tesla before publishing.
  • The SEC, citing Musk’s own words, accuses him of not doing that and changing his explanations as to why.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a court filing on Monday, said a tweet Elon Musk published in February was a “blatant violation” of a $40 million court settlement that requires Tesla to appoint a “Twitter czar” who would vet his tweets for information material to the company before publishing.

The SEC filed a contempt-of-court claim against Musk over a February 19 tweet in which Musk said Tesla would produce 500,000 vehicles in 2019. Musk corrected the tweet about Tesla vehicle production hours after he sent it.

The Twitter czar was supposed to prevent the Tesla CEO from tweeting information about the electric carmaker that could unduly rattle the market. That order stems from a settlement reached between the SEC and Tesla in September over Musk’s now-infamous “funding secured” tweet last year in which he said he was prepared to take the company private. Both Tesla and Musk were ordered to pay $20 million each in restitution.

Tesla implemented a new policy governing communications among its senior executives as part of the settlement.

Read more: MUSK FILES HIS DEFENSE: Says SEC seeks to violate his First Amendment rights and its filing ‘smacks of retaliation and censorship’

The SEC accuses Musk of failing to have his tweets vetted and, instead, “unilaterally” deciding what is material information.

“The preapproval requirement was designed to protect against reckless conduct by Musk going forward,” the SEC said in its filing on Monday. “It is therefore stunning to learn that, at the time of filing of the instant motion, Musk had not sought pre-approval for a single one of the numerous tweets about Tesla he published in the months since the Court-ordered pre-approval policy went into effect.”

It continues: “Musk’s shifting justifications suggest that there was never any good faith effort to comply with the Court’s order and the Tesla Policy. Rather, Musk has simply elected to ignore them.”

This is the latest development in an ongoing dispute between Musk and the SEC. The Tesla CEO has not been coy about his disdain for the regulatory agency that he previously called the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”

Legal experts cited by Reuters say the SEC still has a number of remedies it can pursue if the Musk settlement goes south. Those could include higher fines against Musk and tighter restrictions on his activities.

SEE ALSO: MUSK FILES HIS DEFENSE: Says SEC seeks to violate his First Amendment rights and its filing ‘smacks of retaliation and censorship’

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