Alex Spiro, Elon Musk's attorney, arrives at the courthouse.
Photo: JOHN G. MABANGLO/EPA
In the fraud case against Elon Musk for misleading tweets about the electric car manufacturer Tesla 2018, a plaintiff's lawyer accused the technology billionaire of lying.
"Elon Musk, chairman and CEO of Tesla, lied," attorney Nicholas Porritt said in a federal court in San Francisco.
"Because of his lies, ordinary people have lost millions and millions of dollars."
In August 2018, Musk announced on Twitter that he would take Tesla public for a price of $420 per share.
Funding for this is »secured«.
The announcement caused Tesla shares to fluctuate, but Musk later backed down.
Investors then sued Musk.
They accuse him of "artificially manipulating" the price of Tesla stock with the aim of hurting all investors who had bet on a falling share price.
Plaintiff attorney Porritt said in his opening statement that Musk's price of $420 (today almost €390) was a "joke".
The funding also never existed.
Musk's attorney, Alex Spiro, said the Tesla CEO's tweets may have been "imprudent," but "not cheating, not even close."
At the time, Musk felt pressured by media reports to tweet quickly.
"What Mr. Musk was communicating in those tweets was that Mr. Musk was serious about delisting Tesla," Spiro said.
Trouble with the SEC
The civil trial against Musk, scheduled for three weeks, began on Tuesday with the selection of the nine jurors.
Musk himself is expected to testify at the trial.
The founder of the software giant Oracle, Larry Ellison, who is a friend of Musk, is also said to have made statements.
The tweets about Tesla got Musk into trouble with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
The 51-year-old and the company each paid $20 million in fines for misleading investors, according to the SEC's investigation.
In addition, Musk had to give up the chairmanship of the board of directors and undertake to have Tesla approve potentially price-sensitive tweets.