Elon Musk has been cleared of wrongdoing over a tweet he made in 2018 in which he said he had the financing to take Tesla private.
The SpaceX CEO was taken to court by investors who believed they had been deceived by Musk over a buyout that never happened. It took the jury of nine less than two hours to return the verdict, which came after a three-week trial which saw Musk take the stand for roughly eight hours.
The billionaire took to Twitter following his verdict, sharing that he was “deeply appreciative” of the jury’s finding. So, why was Elon Musk in court over a tweet he made in 2018? Here’s everything you need to know.
Why was Elon Musk in court?
Musk was taken to court by investors who believed they had been deceived after Musk had tweeted about a Tesla buyout that never happened.
On 7 August, 2018 the SpaceX owner took to Twitter to claim that he had the financing to take Tesla private, causing shares to rise sharply, only to crash 10 days later when it became evident the deal was not happening.
The investors claim that they were deceived and had taken Musk to court in a bid to sue him for billions.
What did his tweet say?
Musk shared his first post on Twitter on 7 August 2018, just before he boarded his private jet. In it he said that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private. He then shared a second tweet a few hours after, suggesting that the deal was imminent.
The tweets caused stocks to surge for 10 days, only to fall once it was made evident that the deal was not going ahead. Musk attended the trial’s closing arguments, even though he was not required to be present, which showed the importance of the trial’s outcome, given the possibility the Tesla CEO could have been required to pay back billions.
Reported by PA Media, Nicholas Porritt, a lawyer for the Tesla shareholders, urged jurors to rebuke Musk for his “loose relationship with the truth”. Porritt said: “Our society is based on rules”. He added: “We need rules to save us from anarchy. Rules should apply to Elon Musk like everyone else.” Whilst Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, conceded the tweets were “technically inaccurate”, he told jurors: “Just because it’s a bad tweet doesn’t make it a fraud.”
What was the jury’s verdict?
A jury of nine took less than two hours of deliberation to clear Musk of wrongdoing. After a three-week trial in San Francisco, they found that the SpaceX CEO had not deceived investors when he tweeted about having the financing to take Tesla private.
What has Elon Musk said?
Musk took to Twitter after his verdict was revealed. In a post he stated he said he was “deeply appreciative” of the jury’s finding. On Twitter Musk wrote: “ Thank goodness, the wisdom of the people has prevailed! I am deeply appreciative of the jury’s unanimous finding of innocence in the Tesla 420 take-private case.”
The Tesla CEO spent roughly eight hours on the stand during the trial, with Musk insisting that he had believed he had secured funds from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to take Tesla private.
Musk defended his August 2018 tweet as well-intentioned, he testified:“I had no ill motive. My intent was to do the right thing for all shareholders.”