Elon Musk not liable in Tesla tweet trial: Jury2 min read 04 Feb 2023, 05:52 AM IST
The jurors deliberated for hours in a San Francisco courtroom and unanimously agreed that neither Elon Musk nor the Tesla board perpetrated fraud
A US jury has cleared Elon Musk of claims by Tesla Inc investors that he defrauded them when he tweeted in 2018 that he was considering taking the company private and had "funding secured" to make the deal happen.
Musk was sued by shareholders who said the tycoon acted recklessly in an effort to squeeze investors who had bet against the company.
The jurors deliberated for hours in a San Francisco courtroom and unanimously agreed that neither Musk nor the Tesla board perpetrated fraud with the tweets and the aftermath.
The verdict rejected allegations that the electric car maker's CEO violated securities laws and should pay billions of dollars in damages.
The court's verdict is a bitter loss for the shareholders who sought to recoup trading losses from fluctuations in Tesla shares after Musk posted the messages. Musk abandoned the take-private plan about two weeks after his initial tweets.
Musk's integrity was at stake at the trial as well as part of a fortune that has established him as one of the world’s richest people. He could have been saddled with a bill for billions of dollars in damages had the jury found him liable for the 2018 tweets that had already been deemed falsehoods by the judge presiding over the trial.
During the three-week trial, Musk spent nearly nine hours on the witness stand, telling jurors he believed the tweets were truthful. He said he had lined up the necessary financing, including a verbal commitment from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund. The fund later backpedaled on its commitment, Musk said.
Musk later testified that he believed he could have sold enough shares of his rocket company SpaceX to fund a buyout, and "felt funding was secured" with SpaceX stock alone.
Musk testified that he made the tweets in order to put small shareholders on the same footing as large investors who knew about the deal. But he acknowledged he lacked formal commitments from the Saudi fund and other potential backers.
He said his tweets in general did not always affect Tesla stock the way he expects.
"Just because I tweet something does not mean people believe it or will act accordingly," Musk told the jury.
(With agencies input)
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