Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk on Thursday sharpened criticism of the U.S. security regulator and called Securities and Exchange Commission officials “bastards” for bringing fraud charges against him over his 2018 tweets about the company’s privacy.
On the day he made big news by revealing a $ 43 billion cash takeover bid for social media company Twitter Inc., Musk aired his grievances against the SEC during remarks at the TED conference in Vancouver.
Musk, the world’s richest person according to a Forbes report, said funding to take his electric car company private was actually secured when he posted his tweets, but the agency “nevertheless continued the active public investigation.”
“So I was forced to give in illegally to the SEC. Those bastards,” Musk told the audience.
Musk said he felt compelled to settle with the SEC because banks threatened to stop providing capital if he did not, which would have immediately bankrupted Tesla.
“So it’s like having a gun to your child’s head,” Musk said.
“I was forced to admit that I lied to save Tesla’s life and that is the only reason,” Musk added.
Musk and Tesla each paid $ 20 million in civil fines – and Musk stepped down as Tesla’s chairman – to resolve SEC claims that Musk defrauded investors on August 7, 2018 by posting on Twitter that he had “secured funding” for the to take company privately. The SEC at the time said its funding tweets “actually did not have a sufficient basis.”
A related consent decision also required Musk to obtain prior approval from Tesla attorneys for tweets and other public statements that could be material to Tesla.
An SEC spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Musk turned down an invitation to join Twitter’s board last Saturday after announcing his current more than 9% stake. He should have made it public that he held a stake of more than 5 percent in Twitter and is expected to invite regulatory inquiry for missing a deadline to disclose such a stake and file the wrong form , according to security experts.
Launching his Twitter takeover bid, Musk said he made the offer because he believes “it is very important that there is an inclusive arena for free speech.” Musk said he believes Twitter’s algorithm should be open source and suggested that the code behind it should be available on Github, a platform owned by Microsoft to share code for software development.
Asked if he had the financing to do the deal, Musk said: “I have enough assets. I can do it if possible.” He did not provide details.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by techlives staff and is being published from a syndicated stream.)