Musk Accused of $7.5 Billion of Insider Trades in Investor Suit

Musk Accused of .5 Billion of Insider Trades in Investor Suit

Elon Musk had inside knowledge of a miss on production and delivery numbers that Tesla Inc. was facing when he sold more than $7.5 billion in stock in 2022, a shareholder in the electric vehicle maker claimed in a lawsuit.

Tesla’s chief executive officer had nonpublic information that Tesla would miss the fourth-quarter targets that year when he sold the shares, Tesla investor Michael Perry alleged in the suit, filed Thursday in Delaware Chancery Court.

By relying on that information when selling part of his Tesla stake for funds to bolster his buyout of the social media platform X, then known as Twitter, Musk “exploited his position at Tesla, and he breached his fiduciary duties” to the company and its shareholders, Perry said in the complaint.

Elon Musk

Photographer: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg

“Musk profited from his misconduct and his exploitation of material and adverse inside information,” the suit alleges. Perry asked Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick to order Musk, the world’s second-richest person, to return the profit from his allegedly improper trading to the company.

<-bsp-person state=”{“_id”:”0000018f-cfe4-d495-a5cf-effe46b00000″,”_type”:”00000160-6f41-dae1-adf0-6ff519590003″}”>Alex Spiro-bsp-person>, a lawyer for Musk, didn’t immediately return an email Friday seeking comment on the lawsuit.

It’s the latest dispute over Musk and his stock purchases, sales and talk. The suit comes in the same week the 52-year-old billionaire <-bsp-bb-link state=”{“bbDocId”:”SEB0R5T0G1KW”,”_id”:”0000018f-cfe4-d495-a5cf-effe46b10000″,”_type”:”0000016b-944a-dc2b-ab6b-d57ba1cc0000″}”>agreed to sit-bsp-bb-link> for a third round of questioning by the <-bsp-bb-link state=”{“bbHref”:”bbg://securities/13165Z%20US%20Equity”,”_id”:”0000018f-cfe4-d495-a5cf-effe46b20000″,”_type”:”0000016b-944a-dc2b-ab6b-d57ba1cc0000″}”>US Securities and Exchange Commission-bsp-bb-link> in its probe of his Twitter acquisition and whether he properly disclosed his initial stake in the company.

Earlier, after clashing with the SEC over a Twitter post he made about taking Tesla private, he incurred a fine and was forced to accept a “Twitter sitter,” a Tesla lawyer to screen his communications about the company.

Read More: <-bsp-bb-link state=”{“bbDocId”:”SE9MCIT0AFB4″,”_id”:”0000018f-cfe4-d495-a5cf-effe46b20001″,”_type”:”0000016b-944a-dc2b-ab6b-d57ba1cc0000″}”>Tesla’s Slump Exposes Elon Musk’s Distractions Across His Empire-bsp-bb-link>

In his lawsuit, Perry also names as defendants Tesla directors for allegedly failing to make sure Musk complied with his legal obligations in the stock sales and statements about the carmaker’s performance. Musk touted the quarterly performance earlier in 2022, saying the company enjoyed “excellent demand” and expected “to sell every car we make as far into the future as we can see,” according to the suit.

But he learned in November 2022 — about midway through the quarter — that Tesla wouldn’t meet its targets for the period, Perry claims. Before that development was announced publicly in January 2023, Musk made the $7.53 billion share sale, Perry says.

On Jan. 3, 2023, the first trading day after the Jan. 2 announcement of the numbers, Tesla shares fell 12% from their close of $123.18 on Dec. 30, 2022, to $108.10, according to the complaint.

McCormick has dealt with Musk before. She oversaw a case over his unsuccessful effort to back out of buying Twitter. And in January she voided his $56 billion pay package after finding that Tesla directors who approved it in 2018 had a conflict of interest and that Tesla failed to properly disclose the terms of the executive compensation plan.

Tesla is asking investors to vote on it a second time, at the company’s June 13 annual meeting, to show they still back the plan, which could help in a legal appeal of McCormick’s decision. Proxy adviser <-bsp-bb-link state=”{“bbHref”:”bbg://securities/77449Z%20US%20Equity”,”_id”:”0000018f-cfe4-d495-a5cf-effe46b30000″,”_type”:”0000016b-944a-dc2b-ab6b-d57ba1cc0000″}”>Institutional Shareholder Services-bsp-bb-link> is <-bsp-bb-link state=”{“bbDocId”:”SEBVWOT1UM0W”,”_id”:”0000018f-cfe4-d495-a5cf-effe46b30001″,”_type”:”0000016b-944a-dc2b-ab6b-d57ba1cc0000″}”>urging-bsp-bb-link> them to reject the pay package.

The stock sale case is Perry v. Musk, 2024-0560, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington).

To contact the reporter on this story:
Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware at jfeeley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
<-bsp-person state=”{“_id”:”0000018f-cfe4-d495-a5cf-effe46b80000″,”_type”:”00000160-6f41-dae1-adf0-6ff519590003″}”>Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou-bsp-person> at megkolfopoul@bloomberg.net

Peter Jeffrey, Peter Blumberg

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