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特斯拉因马斯克言论面临刑事调查

彭博社 2018年09月20日

美国证券交易委员会已向这家电动汽车制造商发出传票,要求公司对马斯克私有化的计划进行说明。

据两名知情人士告知,美国司法部正因特斯拉及其CEO埃隆·马斯克的公开言论对公司进行调查。此次刑事调查和之前报道的证券监管部门进行的民事调查同时进行。

上述两名知情人士透露,马斯克上个月发推特称在考虑将特斯拉私有化,而且已经找到了“可靠的资金”,因此联邦检察官开展了欺诈调查。因为这是机密的刑事调查,两位知情人士不愿意透露姓名。马斯克私有化的推文一发出就拉升了特斯拉股票。

加州北区美国检察官办公室对特斯拉开展调查前,美国证券交易委员会(SEC)已向这家电动汽车制造商发出传票,要求他们对马斯克私有化的计划进行说明,虽然后来马斯克放弃了这个计划。

其中一名知情人士称,当前刑事调查仍处于早期阶段。美国司法部的调查和SEC的民事调查一样,可能需要几个月。调查结果也可能是检察官决定不提出诉讼。

特斯拉的股票走势出现逆转,下跌4.4%至282美元。纽约时间周二上午11:45,股价降低2.5%跌至287.60美元,今年以来已下跌7.7%。

特斯拉并未立刻回应此事。旧金山美国检察官办公室发言人亚伯拉罕·西蒙斯拒绝发表评论。

SEC调查

据彭博社8月9日报道,旧金山办公室的SEC执法律师在马斯克发表私有化的推文前就已经开始调查特斯拉了。据上述两名知情人士透露,当前调查主要针对特斯拉是否发布了具有误导性的生产目标和销售目标。

目前尚不清楚刑事调查的范围是否也一样宽泛。进行证券欺诈调查的检察官可能会就公司领导人是否故意欺瞒投资者公司的运行状况等问题搜集证据。

马斯克因为8月7日发推特说获得了资金能够收购特斯拉而将自己置于法律风险中,尽管他的推文说的可能并非事实。差不多一周后,马斯克说自己发推文是因为他和沙特阿拉伯的公共投资基金进行了交流,这家基金会在2017年年初首次表达了有意帮助马斯克实现公司私有化想法。

放弃努力

之后,特斯拉董事会称公司未收到兼任董事会主席的马斯克提交正式请求,也没有就私有化是否可行或者是否有利做出结论。马斯克发推文后不到三周,他就放弃了这一做法。

其中一名知情人士称,因为马斯克的推文已经引起了美国司法部的关注,调查人员可能会将他们的审查范围扩大到马斯克关于公司运转情况的其他公开言论。他还透露,有关部门可能还会调查特斯拉首席会计官戴夫·莫顿任职不到一个月就辞职的相关情况。

莫顿曾任电脑硬盘制造商希捷科技的首席财务官,他加入特斯拉一天后,马斯克就发表了那条推文,说自己正在考虑以420美元一股的价钱收购股票,将公司私有化。(财富中文网)

译者:Agatha

Tesla Inc. is under investigation by the Justice Department over public statements made by the company and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, according to two people familiar with the matter. The criminal probe is running alongside a previously reported civil inquiry by securities regulators.

Federal prosecutors opened a fraud investigation after Musk tweeted last month that he was contemplating taking Tesla private and had “funding secured” for the deal, said the people, who were granted anonymity to discuss a confidential criminal probe. The tweet initially sent the company’s shares higher.

The investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Northern District of California follows a subpoena issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission seeking information from the maker of electric cars about Musk’s plans to go private, which he has since abandoned.

The criminal inquiry is in its early stages, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Justice Department probes, like the civil inquiries undertaken by the SEC, can take months. They sometimes end with prosecutors deciding against bringing an enforcement action.

Tesla shares reversed gains and dropped as much as 4.4 percent to $282. The stock dropped 2.5 percent to $287.60 as of 11:45 a.m. Tuesday in New York and are down about 7.7 percent this year.

Tesla didn’t have an immediate comment. Abraham Simmons, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco, declined to comment.

SEC Probe

SEC enforcement attorneys in the San Francisco office were already investigating Tesla before Musk sent his tweet on taking the company private, Bloomberg reported Aug. 9. The existing probe focuses on whether Tesla had issued misleading pronouncements on manufacturing goals and sales targets, according to two people familiar with the matter.

It’s unclear whether the criminal investigation is that broad. Prosecutors in securities-fraud investigations could seek evidence on matters including whether company leaders intentionally lied to investors about the health of the business.

Musk exposed himself to legal risk by tweeting Aug. 7 that he had the funding for a buyout even though that may not have been the case. Almost a week later, Musk said the basis for his statement was conversations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which first expressed interest in helping take the company private in early 2017.

Abandoned Effort

Tesla’s board then said that it hadn’t received a formal proposal from Musk, who’s also the company’s chairman, nor had it concluded whether going private would be advisable or feasible. Less than three weeks after his initial tweets, Musk abandoned the effort.

Now that Musk’s tweeting has attracted the Justice Department’s attention, investigators there could extend their review to other public statements made by the CEO about the company’s health, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Authorities could also look into the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Tesla’s Chief Accounting Officer, Dave Morton, after less than a month on the job, the person said.

Morton, a former chief financial officer for computer hard-drive maker Seagate Technology Plc, joined Tesla one day before Musk tweeted that he was considering buying out some investors at $420 a share and taking the company private.

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