Lawsuit accuses Tesla’s Musk of fraud over tweets, going-private proposal

Tesla founder Elon Musk's announcement that he was considering taking the electric automaker private has jacked up the company's shares by 5.9 percent to $361.87. (AFP / Robyn Beck)
Updated 11 August 2018
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Lawsuit accuses Tesla’s Musk of fraud over tweets, going-private proposal

SAN FRANCISCO, US: Tesla Inc. and Chief Executive Elon Musk were sued on Friday by an investor who said they fraudulently engineered a scheme to “completely decimate” short-sellers, including through Musk’s proposal to take the electric car company private.
The complaint filed by Kalman Isaacs said Musk’s alleged false and misleading tweets on Aug. 7 about a possible going-private transaction, and Tesla’s failure to correct them, were a “nuclear attack” on short-sellers that inflated Tesla’s stock price and violated federal securities laws.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the proposed class-action complaint filed in the federal court in San Francisco. The company is based in nearby Palo Alto, California.
Short-sellers borrow shares they believe are overpriced, sell them, and then repurchase shares later at what they hope will be a lower price to make a profit.
Such investors have long been an irritant for Musk, who has sometimes used Twitter to criticize them.
Musk’s Aug. 7 tweets, including when he said there was “funding secured” to possibly take Tesla private, helped push Tesla’s stock price more than 13 percent above the prior day’s close.
The stock has since given back more than two-thirds of that gain, in part following reports that the US Securities and Exchange Commission had begun inquiring about Musk’s activity.
Musk has not offered evidence that he has lined up the necessary funding to take Tesla private, and the complaint did not offer proof to the contrary.
But Isaacs said Tesla’s and Musk’s conduct caused the volatility that cost short-sellers hundreds of millions of dollars from having to cover their short positions, and caused all Tesla securities purchasers to pay artificially inflated prices.
Tesla’s market value exceeds $60 billion, and its shares closed Friday up $3.04 at $355.49. Musk had tweeted that Tesla could go private for $420 per share.
According to the complaint, Isaacs bought 3,000 Tesla shares on Aug. 8 to cover his short position. The proposed class period begins on the afternoon of Aug. 7, and ends the next day.
The case is Isaacs v Musk et al, US District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-04865. (


US trade negotiators to visit China for fresh round of talks

Updated 21 March 2019
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US trade negotiators to visit China for fresh round of talks

  • Washington and Beijing are battling over the final shape of a trade deal
  • American officials are demanding profound changes to Chinese industrial policy

BEIJING: US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will visit China on March 28-29 for a fresh round of talks aimed at resolving the bruising trade war, the Chinese commerce ministry said Thursday.
After their visit, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will head to the United States in April to continue the negotiations, ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a press briefing.
Washington and Beijing are battling over the final shape of a trade deal, with American officials demanding profound changes to Chinese industrial policy.
President Donald Trump warned Wednesday that US tariffs on Chinese imports could remain in place for a “substantial period,” dampening hopes that an agreement would see them lifted soon.
Over the last eight months, the United States and China have slapped tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way goods trade, weighing on the manufacturing sectors in both countries.
On Friday, China’s rubber-stamp parliament approved a foreign investment law to strengthen protections for intellectual property — a central US grievance — but critics said the bill was rammed through without sufficient time for input from businesses.