Elon Musk has reached a deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission following a dispute over his bad tweets and what he can — or more specifically, can’t — share on the platform after he was accused of violating the terms of an earlier agreement. It now looks as though Musk will (for real) have to clear some of his Tesla-related tweets with a lawyer.
The agreement reached between Musk and the agency was filed in a Manhattan federal court and will next need to be approved by US District Judge Alison Nathan. The agreement was reached after Nathan essentially ordered the two to figure it out following the SEC’s request that the judge hold Musk in contempt for a February tweet.
The problematic tweet in question was related to Tesla production figures and appeared to contradict figures represented in an earlier letter to the company’s shareholders.
While Musk hours later corrected the apparently misstated production number in his initial tweet, the SEC said in a court filing that Musk “did not seek or receive preapproval prior to publishing this tweet, which was inaccurate and disseminated to over 24 million people”.
Meant to say annualized production rate at end of 2019 probably around 500k, ie 10k cars/week. Deliveries for year still estimated to be about 400k.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 20, 2019
The agency viewed Musk’s tweet as a violation of the settlement it reached with the Tesla CEO last year over his now-infamous “420” tweet about taking the company private. That settlement required that in addition to paying a $US20 million ($28 million) fine and stepping down as Tesla’s board chairman, Musk would also need to secure approval for some of his statements related to Tesla’s operations.
According to The New York Times, one of Musk’s lawyers John Hueston claimed in a court hearing this month that vagueness around those restrictions on Musk’s tweets created a “murky policy”. But if there was any question over specifically what those terms entailed, there shouldn’t be now.
This week’s filing states Musk must “obtain the pre-approval of an experienced securities lawyer employed by [Tesla] of any written communication” relating to company financial figures, statements, deals, legal decisions, forecasts, estimates, or “such other topics as the Company or the majority of the independent members of its Board of Directors may request, if it or they believe pre-approval of communications regarding such additional topics would protect the interests of the Company’s shareholders”.
Yeah, we’ll see about that.