Politics

Feds Connect Elon Musk, Marijuana, and Rapper Girlfriend

Electric carmaker Tesla hit with fraud allegations by Securities and Exchange Commission over tweets

Image Credit: ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty Images

Federal securities regulators on Thursday painted a strange picture involving Elon Musk, marijuana, and his rapper girlfriend.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it is pursuing fraud charges against Musk, one of America’s most colorful business leaders.

Steven Peikin, co-director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said at a news conference that Musk (pictured above) in August falsely tweeted that he was going to take the publicly traded company private. The kicker was the reason behind the $420-per-share price offered by Musk.

According to the SEC, it was an ode to marijuana — 420 being a symbol of the drug — aimed at the rapper known as Grimes.

“While leading Tesla’s investors to believe he had a firm offer in hand, we allege that Musk had arrived at the price of $420 by assuming 20 percent premium over Tesla’s then-existing share price, then rounding up to $420 because of the significance of that number in marijuana culture and his belief that his girlfriend would be amused by it,” Peikin said at the news conference.

In a prepared statement, Peikin indicated the allegations are serious.

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“Corporate officers hold positions of trust in our markets and have important responsibilities to shareholders,” he stated. “An officer’s celebrity status or reputation as a technological innovator does not give license to take those responsibilities lightly.”

Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the enforcement division, said in a statement that providing truthful information is one of the most important duties of a CEO.

“That standard applies with equal force when the communications are made via social media or another nontraditional form,” she stated.

Related: Tesla’s Stock Drops After Elon Musk Smokes Pot on Podcast

The controversy sent Tesla’s stock tumbling, from $307.52 at Thursday’s closing to $270.01 today when the market opened.

Musk denied the allegations, according to Fortune.

“This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed. I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors,” he said in a statement. “Integrity is the most important value in my life, and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way.”

UPDATE: Musk Resigns Tesla Board

In a settlement with the SEC, Musk agreed Friday to resign within 45 days as chairman of the board of directors of Tesla and pay a $20 million fine. He will remain as Tesla’s chief executive officer (CEO).

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