The jury in a high-profile lawsuit against Tesla CEO Elon Musk heard testimony on Wednesday that the billionaire tech executive told “lies” that cost investors millions of dollars.
The lawsuit, brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, accuses Musk of fraud in his August 2018 tweet claiming he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 a share. The jury heard from three witnesses that the tweet was false, and that it caused Tesla’s stock price to soar, leading to millions of dollars in losses for investors who bought the stock at inflated prices.
One witness, a former Tesla chief financial officer, testified that the tweet caused panic and confusion in the company’s executive ranks, as they were unaware of any plans to take the company private. Another witness, an investor in the company, said he sold his shares as soon as he heard the tweet, fearing it was not accurate.
The SEC is seeking a fine and a prohibition on Musk serving as an officer or director of a publicly traded company. Musk has denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyers have argued that the tweet was an “immaterial” statement that was not intended to move the stock price.