Court denies Elon Musk and Tesla hearing over SEC ‘harassment’ claim

The dispute is the latest in a continuing battle between Mr Musk and the US markets regulator

A US judge has denied Tesla and its chief executive Elon Musk a court hearing over claims of harassment by markets regulator SEC. AFP
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Elon Musk and Tesla were denied a court hearing on their claims that the Securities and Exchange Commission has made them the target of an “unrelenting investigation” in retaliation for criticisms of the government.

US District Judge Alison Nathan on Thursday said it was not clear what the company and its chief executive were asking for in a February 17 letter complaining that they were the subject of “endless probes” by the regulator.

Mr Musk and Tesla accused the SEC of using their settlements of suits over a series of 2018 tweets by Mr Musk to “muzzle and harass” him and the company.

They asked for a court conference on the regulator’s alleged failure to distribute $40 million in settlement funds while spending “energy and resources investigating Mr Musk’s and Tesla’s compliance with the consent decree by issuing subpoenas unilaterally, without court approval”.

The SEC denied the claims in a letter to the judge, saying that agency enforcement staff has been in touch with Mr Musk and Tesla, seeking to address concerns over their compliance with the settlements.

“The defendants’ precise application to the court is unclear,” the judge said in a two-page order denying the request on Thursday, suggesting that they file a proper request with the court if they seek relief.

The dispute is the latest in a continuing battle between the SEC and Mr Musk over his Twitter posts claiming he had the funding and investor support to take the company private at $420 a share.

The SEC alleged the tweets were false, and while Mr Musk and Tesla did not admit wrongdoing in the accord, the agency set up a “fair fund”, with $20m each from Mr Musk and Tesla, to compensate company investors.

Updated: February 25, 2022, 9:03 AM