The world’s formerly richest man testified in front of a jury this week this his infamous tweet about taking Telsa private at 420 a share was not a joke.
Musk is in U.S. district court as a defendant in a class-action securities fraud lawsuit brought by investors who allege they lost billions as a result of Musk’s 2018 claims, reports the Washington Post.
The 2018 tweet, which caused Tesla shares to jump by 7 per cent, previously led to a securities fraud charge brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC alleged that pegging Tesla’s share price at 420 added a “substantial premium to its trading price at the time.”
Musk pushed back against those claims this week, stating that the number was a “coincidence” and represented a roughly “20 per cent premium” over Tesla’s stock at the time, reports Yahoo.
Musk also denied that he had made the tweet to elicit a giggle from then-girlfriend Grimes, a Canadian musician.
“I don’t know if she found it funny or not,” Musk testified, per Business Insider. “But the 420 price was not a joke.”
Musk added, however, that he believes there is some “karma” around the number, though he’s unsure “whether that is good or bad karma at this point.”
Musk claimed he had met with a Saudi Arabia sovereign wealth fund to secure financing and was prepared to sell his stake in SpaceX to raise money, reports BBC.
Musk later settled with the SEC on the securities fraud allegations, with both Musk and Tesla paying fines of $20 million each. Musk also stepped down as Tesla’s chairman.
That same year, Musk also made headlines after taking a few puffs from a joint while appearing on Joe Rogan’s podcast. The inhales not only led to Musk being reportedly drug tested for “everything” but also cost U.S. taxpayers $5 million as it spurred a month-long NASA safety review of Boeing and SpaceX, to evaluate the “culture” at the two private companies.
Musk later purchased Twitter at a price of $54.20 a share and laid off thousands of employees. As a result of that decision, Musk’s team tried to relocate the current ongoing lawsuit from California to Texas, claiming that the jury would be biased against him.
“We don’t think we can get a fair trial in this district, period, full stop,” said Alex Spiro, a lawyer for Musk, per BBC. The request was denied by Judge Edward Chen.
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