Tesla under USA criminal probe for Model 3 comments

Tesla under USA criminal probe for Model 3 comments

Tesla under USA criminal probe for Model 3 comments

A Tesla spokesperson said the company cooperated with a "voluntary request" for documents from the Justice Department earlier this year but has had no additional requests for months.

The FBI is conducting a criminal investigation into whether Tesla misstated production figures about the electric vehicle maker's Model 3 sedan and misled investors about its business, according to a published report. The agency has the ability to press criminal charges.

The FBI is examining whether Tesla misstated information about the production of its Model 3 sedans and misled investors about its business going back to early 2017, the Journal reported.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have asked former Tesla employees recently for testimony in the case, WSJ noted.

A Tesla spokesman said the company was transparent about the difficulty of increasing production of the Model 3.

The FBI did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Earlier this month, a USA judge approved Tesla and Musk's $40 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over a probe of Musk's August tweet citing funding being secured to take the company private. Touching on this point late previous year, Musk said that the "Model Y will, in fact, be using substantial carry over from Model 3 in order to bring it to market faster" and that it will "have relatively low technical and production risk as a result".

On Wednesday, the company reported strong third-quarter financial results, delivering on Musk's promise to turn the electric-car maker profitable as higher production volumes of its new Model 3 began to pay off. Analysts have criticized production on the Model 3 since the company first unveiled the auto in 2017.

Such statements were fraudulent, according to the lawsuit, given that the automated assembly lines to build the auto in such volume were behind schedule.

Tesla has denied the claims in the lawsuit, saying it disclosed production bottlenecks once they were identified, and citing Musk's public statements that the company was undergoing a period of "production hell" in 2017.

Tesla finally hit its Model 3 production target in June of this year, about six months late. Musk responded to the tweet with "worth it". The SEC sued him for fraud, calling his claims "false and misleading", before reaching a settlement.

Rising 12 percent at one point in early trading, the move in shares added as much as $6 billion to Tesla's market value, capping a tumultuous few months for the company and its billionaire chief executive, Elon Musk.

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