Court approves SEC’s plan for distribution of $40M Tesla, Musk penalty
The New York Southern District Court has approved the SEC’s plan for the distribution of a $40 million penalty paid by Tesla and Elon Musk.
The relevant order was signed by Judge Alison J. Nathan on March 25, 2022. The plan was submitted by the SEC on March 8, 2022.
Let’s recall that, back in September 2018, the SEC announced that Elon Musk has agreed to settle the securities fraud charge brought by the SEC against him. The SEC also charged Tesla with failing to have required disclosure controls and procedures relating to Musk’s tweets, a charge that Tesla has agreed to settle.
According to the SEC’s complaint against him, Musk tweeted on August 7, 2018 that he could take Tesla private at $420 per share — a substantial premium to its trading price at the time — that funding for the transaction had been secured, and that the only remaining uncertainty was a shareholder vote.
The SEC’s complaint alleged that, in truth, Musk knew that the potential transaction was uncertain and subject to numerous contingencies. Musk had not discussed specific deal terms, including price, with any potential financing partners, and his statements about the possible transaction lacked an adequate basis in fact. According to the SEC’s complaint, Musk’s misleading tweets caused Tesla’s stock price to jump by over six percent on August 7, and led to significant market disruption.
Musk and Tesla have agreed to settle the charges against them without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations. Among other relief, the settlements require that Musk and Tesla will each pay a separate $20 million penalty.
Elon Musk has slammed the SEC for the delayed submission of the plan. In February, he accused the SEC of failing to comply with its promise to pay Tesla’s shareholders the $40 million it collected as part of the settlement in these cases and that it purports to be holding for them.
Instead, according to Musk, the SEC has been devoting its formidable resources to endless, unfounded investigations into Musk and Tesla.
Whether the approval of the distribution plan will resolve the disputes between Musk and the SEC remains to be seen.