SEC charges Tesla, Elon Musk with fraud

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for fraud, according to court documents filed Thursday. Sources close to the company told CNBC the company was also expecting to be sued, though Tesla was not named as a defendant in the complaint.

@elonmusk: Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.

Musk later explained that he had been in discussions with the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund and felt confident the funding would come through at his proposed price of $420 per share. Musk said in an interview with The New York Times that he calculated that take-private price by rounding $1 up from what would have been a 20 percent upside at the time.

“According to Musk, he calculated the $420 price per share based on a 20% premium over that day’s closing share price because he thought 20% was a ‘standard premium’ in going-private transaction,” the SEC alleged in its suit. “This calculation resulted in a price of $419, and Musk stated that he rounded the price up to $420 because he had recently learned about the number’s significance in marijuana culture and thought his girlfriend ‘would find it funny, which admittedly is not a great reason to pick a price.'”

Tesla’s board of directors initially formed a special committee to evaluate the take-private proposal, but Musk ultimately called off the privatization plans on Aug. 24.

Tesla did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Read the lawsuit as filed in the Manhattan District Court below, and download the file here:

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