British cave diver sues Elon Musk over 'pedo' comments

Cristina Cross
September 19, 2018

Days later, the New York Times reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had served Tesla with a subpoena.

The US Justice Department is investigating Tesla over CEO Elon Musk's tweets about taking the company private.

A lawyer for the diver, Vernon Unsworth filed a lawsuit against the SpaceX and Tesla Founder, over tweets Musk sent during the rescue of a Thai boys soccer team in June and July. Nearly a week later, Musk said the basis for his statement was conversations with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which first expressed interest in helping take the company private in early 2017.

Tesla shares fell 5.3 per cent to $279.13 in midday trading. The DOJ requested documents, they have them now, and soon we'll all be able to put this behind us, says Tesla. Tesla shares dropped to 7.9% today after news broke about the possible investigation.

A backlash from shareholders forced Musk to abandon the plan less than three weeks after his initial tweet. Those statements are likely the tweets that Musk issued, reportedly while driving himself to the airport, saying that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private.

The case adds to a slew of litigation against Mr Musk, including over his running of Tesla, which the billionaire has said caused him severe stress. When reached for comment by Bloomberg, Abraham Simmons, a spokesperson for the USA attorney's office in San Francisco, declined to comment on the matter.

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Elon Musk may rue the day he tweeted "Funding secured".

It's unclear whether the criminal investigation is that broad.

Musk made the series of false statements "with actual malice, that is, with actual knowledge of falsity or a reckless disregard for truth or falsity", according to the complaint.

He also claimed that Musk falsely called him a child rapist and sex trafficker in an August 30 email to BuzzFeed News. "Given the feedback I've received, it's apparent that most of Tesla's existing shareholders believe we are better off as a public company", he wrote on August 24.

A DOJ spokesperson wrote in an email, "The Justice Department generally does not confirm, deny or otherwise comment on the existence or non-existence of an investigation". One, which resulted in a subpoena, is scrutinizing Musk's tweets, and the other is looking into whether Musk misled investors over Model 3 production.

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