Elon Musk to testify in trial over $56bn Tesla pay package

Chief executive faces shareholder challenge over his package at electric vehicle company

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A US trial over Elon Musk's disputed $59 billion pay at Tesla began on Monday, with the world's richest person expected to take the stand this week.

A Tesla shareholder alleges Mr Musk unfairly dictated the terms of his compensation package and set easily reached performance targets.

They claimed that investors were duped into approving it. Under the deal, Mr Musk did not even have to work at Tesla full-time.

The pay packet is six times larger than the top 200 CEO salaries combined in 2021, said Amit Batish of research firm Equilar.

Mr Musk is expected to testify on Wednesday for the trial taking place in Wilmington, Delaware.

The trial began with Ira Ehrenpreis, a Tesla board member since 2007 and chair of the committee that oversaw the pay package, describing the process to develop the record-breaking deal.

"I wanted to make sure that Elon remained as the leader of Tesla over a longer period of time," Mr Ehrenpreis testified.

The lawsuit states his pay package should have required Mr Musk to work full-time at Tesla.

Shareholders are worried he is becoming increasingly distracted by his newly acquired Twitter.

Referring to the many pressures Mr Musk is under as he leads Tesla, Twitter, SpaceX and other businesses, he said on Monday that he "has too much work" on his plate.

A decision will probably take about three months after the trial, and an appeal against the verdict could be lodged at the Delaware Supreme Court.

Agencies contributed to this report

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