Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission have received a one-week extension from US Judge Alison Nathan, giving them more time to settle an ongoing dispute over the Tesla CEO’s Twitter use. The extension came on the heels of a joint submission to the federal judge, who initially gave Musk and the SEC until April 18 to reach an agreement.
“While we have not reached an agreement, counsel for the SEC, Mr. Musk, and counsel for Tesla met and conferred for over an hour by telephone earlier this week and are continuing to discuss a potential resolution. Because our discussions are ongoing, we respectfully request to provide the Court with another joint submission on or before April 25, 2019, indicating whether we have reached an agreement in principle,” the request read.
Elon Musk and the SEC’s ongoing dispute was caused by a tweet posted on February 19 which noted that the electric car maker will produce around 500K electric cars this year, a figure that the CEO also mentioned in the Q4 2018 earnings call. Musk eventually issued a follow-up tweet, stating that the 500k figure referred to an annualized production rate. The SEC promptly jumped on Musk’s tweet, asking a US court to hold Musk in contempt over the alleged violation of his settlement with the agency, which required any social media posts with material information to be reviewed before they are uploaded.
Elon Musk and his legal team faced off with the SEC earlier this month, where both sides presented their case to the US judge. The SEC’s attorney, Cheryl Crumpton, argued that Musk had “recklessly tweeted out information that has no basis in fact.” The SEC lawyer also admonished Tesla for allegedly failing to control the conduct of its CEO. As punishment for his alleged violation, the SEC called on the court to give Musk an escalating series of fines. The agency also stated that Musk should be ordered to report monthly on his compliance to the terms of his agreement with the SEC.
Musk’s legal team, represented by veteran lawyer John Hueston, argued that the Tesla CEO did not violate the terms of his settlement because the February 19 tweet contained information that had been public since the company’s Q4 2018 earnings call. The lawyer added that under the terms of the settlement, Musk has the discretion to decide what is material information and what is not. Hueston also argued that the SEC should have attempted to settle its dispute with Musk before it asked the court to hold the CEO in contempt. “What the SEC should have done was approach in good faith and try to work things out,” he said.
After hearing the arguments from the SEC and Musk’s legal team, Judge Nathan ordered the two parties to “take a deep breath, put on your reasonableness pants” and work out a solution by April 18. If the parties are unable to resolve their conflicts on their own, Nathan noted that Musk’s legal team and the SEC will hear from her. Musk, for his part, noted in a statement after the hearing that he was “very impressed with Judge Nathan’s analysis.”
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Author: Simon Alvarez