The Justice Department is investigating whether comments made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk last month about taking his company private were illegal, the automaker confirmed Tuesday. Its stock is now trading 25 per cent lower than it was on the day of Musk's take-private tweet, an indication of faltering confidence in Musk's leadership. 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.
The feud between the 63-year-old United Kingdom diver and the Tesla CEO started over a mini-submarine Musk sent to help with the rescue in northern Thailand. Tesla shares dropped to 7.9% today after news broke about the possible investigation.
Now, it appears that the Justice Department is looking into the case as well. Musk has provided no evidence whatsoever of his claims at any point, nor explained why he would attack a man he supposedly knew to be a child molester via Twitter and email rather than turning over evidence to the authorities.
Some of the delays, Musk admits, are directly due to supply chain issues at Tesla's end, and that the EV maker will concentrate on improving this as soon as Model 3 delivery logistics are ironed out.
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CNN has reached out for comment to the USA attorney's office in San Francisco, which is leading the probe, according to the Bloomberg report.
The Justice Department generally does not confirm or deny investigations, spokeswoman Nicole Navas Oxman told the Associated Press.
Currently, the company has collision work done by third parties, and some Tesla owners, Musk says, have waited weeks or months to get their vehicle back from traditional bodyshops unfamiliar with Teslas.
"We have not received a subpoena, a request for testimony, or any other formal process", Tesla said in their company statement. But a person familiar with the investigation said it is a fraud probe seeking to determine whether Musk's statements were meant to mislead investors.
The July 15 tweet by Musk touted the mini-submarine and then, referring to Unsworth with a shorthand description of a pedophile, said, "Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it".