back to article Musk is in contempt of court, screams SEC after Tesla boss brags about car production rates

Elon Musk should be held in contempt of court, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has told a New York federal court after Tesla's mouthy CEO tweeted about the number of cars the company will roll out this year. The US watchdog said a tweet about Tesla's plan to make 500,000 cars in 2019 was "inaccurate" and broke the …

  1. rg287 Silver badge

    the famously short-tempered, weed-puffing exec wrote in September.

    and the rant-prone boss step down as the Tesla's chairman.

    Does El Reg have a different definition of "rant" to the rest of us? Not sure that he's famous for either ranting or being short-tempered. At least not by the standards of a community accustomed to the musings of Linus Torvalds.

    Lots of twitter, some ill-advised. But ranty? Not really. These tweets may be poorly judged given his history with the SEC but I don't see any shouty ranty stuff. (Interestingly, the SEC's announcement about seeking contempt of court shifted the markets more than Musk's own tweets. Streisand effect anybody?)

    It would be fascinating to know what he's done to earn such consistent and specific ire from the vultures.

    1. MJB7 Bronze badge

      Re: "Rant"

      I think some of his discussions of the British diver he baselessly accused of paedophilia, and of the SEC could fairly be characterized as "rants".

      ... and while I can't speak for the vultures, the British diver case has certainly shifted my view of him

      1. MajDom

        Re: "Rant"

        If I recall, that British diver insulted Musk after the latter offered assistance, by suggesting he could shove it up his backside. No respect for that diver, sorry.

        1. Solarflare

          Re: "Rant"

          The diver pointed out that Elon did the square root of sod all to help the situation, that his 'solution' wouldn't have worked and made it clear to the world that Mr Musk was just trying to grab the spotlight. Elon didn't like that, hence the paedo comments.

          1. Brangdon

            Re: just trying to grab the spotlight

            I think that was the part that hurt, because it's untrue. Whether or not the pod could have helped is unclear, and I don't think the cave explorer was qualified to say. (I say "explorer" because he wasn't one of the rescue team. He had explored the cave when it was dry and knew the phone numbers of the people who actually risked their lives in the rescue.) Either way, Musk had made it at the request of the rescue team, using their specifications, put a lot of effort into it and obviously believed it could save the life of the smallest boy (*). So to have the cave explorer say he was just doing it for PR, ie in bad faith, would have hurt.

            Doesn't justify the paedo comment, of course. That seemed to be based entirely on the chap being a British man who moved to Thailand.

            (*) - the rescue team had trouble sourcing a full-face mask small enough for the smallest boy, so the plan was to enclose him entirely in a pod that had its own air supply.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Rant"

          If I recall, that British diver insulted Musk after the latter offered assistance, by suggesting he could shove it up his backside. No respect for that diver, sorry.

          I hadn't read that he'd actually been so brusque, but there's a big difference between suggesting that someone figurative shoves something up their backside, and making a statement that someone literally sicks himself up small boys' backsides.

        3. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: "Rant"

          So you think a reasonable and proportionate response to being told to shove something up your ass is to tell the world someone is a pedo?

          You don't need to have any respect for the diver to see that Elon went a long, long way past the line.

          1. Killing Time

            Re: "Rant"

            There is much to admire about Musk and his successes but equally there is a significant risk that these achievements and escalating personal wealth lead to overconfidence.

            I suspect there are few people he would view as peers and if he sees himself as a disruptor, probably that view may extend to some aspects of business regulation. If this is the case he could feel justified in his comments.

            Outside of your peers moderating your behaviour there is public opinion and there is the law.

            With few peers and public opinion so fickle and shallow there is only application of the law likely to have any influence on him.

            I doubt a monetary fine will make much difference to him however legal action and subsequent restrictions will put a serious crimp in his ability to reach his stated goals and ambitions.

            Hopefully this will teach him to wind his neck in, grow up and understand that with great power comes great responsibility.

            1. Mark 85 Silver badge

              Re: "Rant"

              Hopefully this will teach him to wind his neck in, grow up and understand that with great power comes great responsibility.

              Possibly.. snowball's chance in hell though. Megalomaniacs know no boundaries and see themselves as prophets and visionaries that are above the rest of us mere mortals.

      2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: "Rant"

        Yeah, that episode certainly showed just how thin skinned Musk really is. It seems many of the twitterati are thin skinned whether it be Musk, Trump, or AOC they are alike in their rush to tweet a "nuh uh, I'm right and here's proof you poopyhead!" style retort with often highly tenuous "proof".

  2. Martijn Otto

    Vetting process

    Could we also require a similar vetting process for Donald Drumpf? His tweets seem to be even more filled with false and misleading information

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Vetting process

        Trump's tweets don't pump share prices.

        Except those about international (trade) relations. There has recently been a direct correlation between sentiment regarding the trade negotiations with China and the market.

      2. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Vetting process

        Every time he tweets about China trade the market takes a huge move. If he let someone know an hour in advance the content of the tweets he was going to send, they could make millions.

        Of course t would assume he himself knew an hour in advance what he was going to say, which for someone as impulsive as he is seems quite unlikely.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Vetting process

      At some point either Congress or the US Supreme Court will probably catch up with the rest of the world and decide what the status of such publications is: policy or unofficial opinion. But I doubt it will be within his first term. The SEC might move faster because some pronouncements, such as those over trade negotiations with China, are relevant to the market and it doesn't take an orange-skinned genius to work out the potential advantages of knowing about this before everyone else.

      1. sisk Silver badge

        Re: Vetting process

        But I doubt it will be within his first term.

        His approval rating has been <48% since he took office. Presidents with approval ratings like that don't get second terms. Heck, the last President whose approval ratings even came close to looking as bad as Trump's was Gerald Ford and even he peaked above 50% occasionally. Hell, even Jimmy Carter had better approval ratings. Unless something drastic happens in the next year and a half or so Trump's first term will be Trump's only term.

  3. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Does that guy even step outside and get a tan? Or is he prepping himself for a long space journey in the inky blackness of space?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You know, screw that...

    Free speech dying dead and gone.

    I don't frankly care anymore, sick of watching the world go fascist through soy intentions.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: You know, screw that...

      False statements can cause share prices to change, cheating people out of money. For example, the original statement of a plan to buy stock would, if believed, increase the share price. If untrue, this means someone can manipulate a share price for personal profit reasons. The proper legal system agreed with this conclusion at the time.

      This is not an issue of free speech. He is not being imprisoned because he is not allowed to say what he did. He said and signed a legal agreement affirming that he would run these statements past a set of lawyers, and he didn't. If you would like to argue that the statement wasn't false, the statement could not cause a change in share prices, or the statement was not in the scope of the original agreement, you can argue that the complaint is wrong. Whatever your view on that issue, argue about what is at issue. Know what free speech is and what it isn't.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You know, screw that...

        Know what free speech is and what it isn't.

        Exactly. Musk wanted to be boss of a publicly listed company, that's fine. But he needs to grow up, pay attention, and play by the rules.

        If he can't do that, then it is time to either take Tesla off the regulated public stock markets, or for Musk to resign completely, and bring in the corporate dead-heads. They're crap at innovation, disruption, vision, but very good at following rules.

        Which opens up a completely different argument, about whether stock markets should be regulated to the point that gobshite mavericks should be (in effect) prohibited from running public companies, in favour of dull, rule following morons.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: You know, screw that...

      If you list on the stock market you agree to abide by its rules and those regarding "forward looking statements" are very strict. He's been done once for misleading the market so now he's very likely in contempt for which he could easily do time. Not that he'd really care as he'd see it as another just more PR.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You know, screw that...

      If the only positive thing you can say about anything is that it was not completely illegal (which it maybe was in this case, influencing the stock market like his earlier tweets) then please stay away from any civilised company.

      "free speech" is a stupid argument in such a case. Plus your freedom ends where that of the next person begins. Keep that in mind.

  5. Starace Silver badge
    Alert

    Contempt

    He hasn't exactly been quiet about what he thought about the SEC, the judgement or his total lack of effort to comply with the terms.

    The specific tweet is almost irrelevant except to work as example of how things aren't being checked prior to posting as they are supposed to be. The content and actual impact barely matter.

  6. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Linux

    Mumpet's

    I'm reminded every time I hear anything Tesla of the Mumpet's, "Pigs in Space' skits. Why is that I wonder? That captioned picture does make him look a little like Miss Piggy doesn't it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mumpet[']s

      Downvoted for feral apostrophes..

  7. Big Al 23

    Time is going to catch up to Musk

    Constantly making public statements in violation of law is eventually going to cost Musk his CEO position at Tesla and potentially any company for a minimum of 5-10 years. Clearly he doesn't believe that the rules apply to him. The SEC will likely need to make a more lasting impression with a $100 million fine as the last $20 million fine didn't seem to get Musk's attention.

  8. WireBug

    Like or Dislike, Musk is not in the wrong here, the SEC is.

    Musk' did not make any statement in his tweet that was not already public knowledge.... fact.

    Musk' tweet altered nothing with Telsa stock, fact!

    SEC making claims that musk breached contract, Tesla stock falls slightly... tell me, who is really in the wrong here. It's not Musk, his statement had no effect on their stock..... but the moment the SEC started crying foul, the stock price fell.... hmmmmm....

    1. FrozenShamrock

      Re: Like or Dislike, Musk is not in the wrong here, the SEC is.

      You need better reading comprehension. Musk entered a legal agreement after his false tweets tried to increase the share price of Tesla. As part of that legal agreement he has to have all public pronouncements that relate to Tesla pre-approved by Tesla lawyers. Those are the relevant facts here. He made a tweet regarding production levels at Tesla, that tweet is clearly covered by the terms of the legal agreement and it was not vetted before hand by the corporate lawyers. That is also a fact. He is in violation of the original legal settlement regardless of the contents of the offending tweet.

      There is an interesting article in the business news today that if Tesla share price doesn't get to $359.87 by Friday it has to pay some creditors $980M in cash. If it got to that price the creditors could be paid with stock. The stock is currently trading below that mark so his tweet could also be seen as trying to goose it over the line to save cash. Fact.

      1. WireBug

        Re: Like or Dislike, Musk is not in the wrong here, the SEC is.

        I would argue that you need more sources than this single article. Shareholders were already briefed on the information Musk tweeted. PUBLICY available information. Why would he need permission to REPEAT publicly available information..... It was all breifed to the shareholders long before he tweeted it.... SEC has a bone to pick with Musk, plain and simple.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    POS

    Anyone who can use a harrowing situation like the one in the Thai cave to so obviously blow his own trumpet by offering, and surely quite knowingly, a complete non-solution to the problem at hand is a POS.

    That he then went on to cast aspersions about someone doing something real, with an actual (and fortunately realised) chance of success in the way that he did is beyond the pale.

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