SAN FRANCISO (AP) — A high-profile lawsuit centered on a 2018 tweet about funding a Tesla takeover that never happened drew a surprise onlooker on Friday — Elon Musk, the billionaire accused of inducing the misled investors with his use of the Twitter service, which he now owns.
Musk, the CEO of Tesla and Twitter, entered the federal courtroom in San Francisco just before the start of closing arguments for opposing counsel in the case and took a seat next to his legal team. Like everyone else in the courtroom, he wore a mask as requested by US District Judge Edward Chen, but briefly dropped it while laughing and whispering to one of his lawyers.
Although a tweet from August 7, 2018 revealed that he had “Secure Funding ‘ is central to the process, Musk was not required to attend Friday’s hearings. His presence in court as he tried to undo huge losses on Twitter and oversee Tesla amid intensifying competition underscores the importance of the trial outcome to him.
If the nine-person jury decides to hold him responsible for misleading Tesla shareholders for a 10-day period in August 2018 to fund the secure tweet and a follow-up tweet suggesting a deal is imminent, Musk and Tesla could risk billions in damages.
Those 2018 tweets have already cost Musk and Tesla $40 million to settle allegations of wrongdoing by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Chen ruled last year that Musk’s 2018 tweets were fake and asked the jury to see them that way.
For about eight hours on the stand, Musk insisted he believed he provided the funds from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to take Tesla private after eight years as a public company. He defended his initial August 2018 tweet as a well-intentioned post to make sure all Tesla investors knew the automaker might be about to end its eight-year existence as a company. public.
“I had no bad motive,” Musk said. “My intention was to do the right thing for all shareholders.”
The jury is expected to begin its deliberations in the afternoon after the conclusion of closing arguments.
Michael Liedtke, The Associated Press
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