In an appearance on 60 Minutes, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who sent stock prices soaring in August when he tweeted that he had secured funding to take his electric car company private, says he's free to tweet what he wants.
Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the US federal government agency, have been locked in a bitter exchange since August this year. It began when Elon Musk sent Tesla stock prices soaring with a tweet claiming that he had secured funding from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to take his electric car company private.
The unforeseen announcement raised quite a few eyebrows, and even brought a securities fraud lawsuit upon Musk, with SEC leading the investigation. Although the Tesla CEO reached a settlement with the regulatory body at the time, he has since then opened up about his stance on the entire fiasco. And if his words are any indication, he doesn’t hold the agency in high regard.
"I want to be clear: I do not respect the SEC," he told Lesley Stahl on CBS' 60 Minutes, airing this Sunday in the US, reports CNN. While he didn’t hesitate from taking a shot at the SEC, the serial tech entrepreneur did make it clear that he is holding up his terms of the agreement “because I respect the justice system”.
Back in September, after SEC levied securities fraud charges based on Musk’s tweets, Tesla and its boss struck separate deals with the US agency to settle the matter. As part of the agreement, he was required to pay a fine of $20 million, appoint two independent directors to the board, and quit his position as the chairman of the company. In addition, Musk had also guaranteed oversight as far as his communication regarding the company – especially information "material" to Tesla's shareholders – was concerned.
However, there’s now an interesting conundrum. As per the official agreement with SEC, Musk need not get each and every one of his tweets “reviewed” before posting online. He told Lesley Stahl that none of his tweets had been censored since he reached a settlement with the SEC, adding that no one had to read his tweets before he hits send.
"The only tweets that would have to be... reviewed would be if a tweet had a probability of causing a movement in the stock," Musk quipped, adding, "Otherwise, it's — hello, First Amendment."
On being asked, however, about the means to ensure that his tweets don’t stir movement, Musk was cheeky.
"Well, I guess we might make some mistakes. Who knows?" said the Tesla boss.