The case of Tesla privatization in 2018 has risen again with renewed vigor. After Elon Musk admitted that he pleaded guilty in the case solely under pressure, new text messages between the head of Tesla and the head of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund appeared and confirm its interest in the manufacturer.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk again took issue with regulators on Monday morning after a court filing unearthed dozens of text messages between him and a Saudi investor discussing a deal to take the manufacturer private. He tweeted that the head of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), Yasir Al-Rumayyan, had made an unequivocal commitment to take Tesla private with him. This commitment is confirmed by Tesla's CFO and several others. Musk explained that this was what prompted him to write that funding was secured in a tweet in 2018.
The head of Saudi PIF committed unequivocally to take Tesla private with me, as witnessed by the Tesla CFO and several others. That is why I said funding was secured.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2022
Musk's tweet comes after there was a court filing on Friday that outlined a series of text messages between him and Al-Rumayyan. The messages show that Musk is insulted and extremely outraged that after the start of the case against him, the Saudi PIF publicly announced that it was not interested in acquiring Tesla, although this was not true. The reports also show that Al-Rumayyan continues to ask Musk for further talks on the acquisition, although the Tesla chief said that after the foundation's misleading public statements, he did not want to do business with them anymore.
Source: Court Filing
During Technology Entertainment and Design (TED) in Vancouver in mid-April, Musk said that funding for his company's privatization was actually secured at the time he posted his tweets in the summer of 2018. However, the SEC continued an active public investigation, which harmed the company significantly. Thus, under pressure, Musk was forced to give in to the SEC.
“So I was forced to concede to the SEC unlawfully. Those bastards,” he said.
The complexity of the situation was that the banks began to threaten to stop providing capital to Tesla if Musk did not agree to the SEC settlement, which would immediately make the company bankrupt. Creating a company from scratch, investing so much time and effort into it, and completely sacrificing personal life for this—it was unacceptable. Musk raised Tesla like a child, because the company had an important mission ahead. Under such tremendous psychological pressure, he felt compelled to settle with the SEC.
“So that'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’s the only reason,” he added.
Musk and Tesla paid civil fines of $20 million each—and Musk stepped down as chairman of Tesla—to satisfy the SEC's claims.
© 2022, Eva Fox | Tesmanian. All rights reserved.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.