Elon Musk has gone to court to ask a judge to free him from the constraints of a deal he reached with US regulators that require him to have his tweets about Tesla pre-approved by a lawyer.
Sir Musk was forced to sign the deal with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2018 after claiming he secured funding to take the company private at $420 (£325) per share, sending shares in a mad dash.
But the billionaire now contends he was pressured into signing the agreement, officially known as the consent decree, due to “relentless regulatory pressure from the SEC”, according to a court filing.
Lawyers for the Tesla CEO argued that at the time You’re here was “a less mature company” and that Musk believed consenting to have his tweets verified by lawyers was in the best interests of the company.
Tesla shares have skyrocketed over the past two years, from under $90 (£68) in January 2020 to over $800 (£607) today.
“As CEO and President of Tesla at the time, I understood that the company and its shareholders would be placed at undue risk if I did not resolve the matter promptly,” the court filing reads.
It follows an ongoing war of words between Tesla and US regulators, with the electric car company accusing the SEC of a “relentless investigation” aimed at restricting Mr. Musk’s right to freedom of expression.
According to attorney Alex Spiro, the SEC is suing the billionaire because he “remains a vocal critic of the government; the SEC’s outsized efforts appear calculated to chill his exercise of First Amendment rights.”
At the time of the original settlement in 2018, Tesla and Musk agreed to each pay $20 million in civil fines and let Tesla lawyers pre-check some of Musk’s communicationsincluding tweets that could affect Tesla’s share price.
A letter filed in court earlier this year revealed that the SEC had issued another subpoena to Mr Musk to verify his compliance with the 2018 agreement.
This followed the billionaire asking his Twitter followers if he should sell 10% of his Tesla scene, triggering a sale.
The lawyer’s letter on behalf of Musk and Tesla was filed eight days after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Tesla following allegations by black workers that he tolerated racial discrimination at his factory in Fremont, California.
Tesla, which has called the lawsuit ‘misguided’, is also trying to reduce or reject a $137 million jury award to a black former elevator operator who was allegedly subjected to a hostile work environment at the factory. .
Another body, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in February it had opened an investigation into Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles after receiving complaints about unexpected braking related to its Autopilot system.
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