Tesla shares drop after Elon Musk's latest Twitter outburst

  • 06/10/2018
Elon Musk.
Elon Musk. Photo credit: Getty

Shares in Tesla fell as much as 5 percent on Friday, after chief executive Elon Musk stirred nerves about the settlement of his securities fraud lawsuit by mocking the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Twitter.

The tweet calling the SEC the "Shortseller Enrichment Commission" came just hours after a federal judge ordered Mr Musk and the SEC to write a letter justifying a settlement which allows him to remain in charge at Tesla.

"Just want to [sic] that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work," Mr Musk, a frequent critic of investors betting against the electric car company said in the tweet. "And the name change is so on point!"

The electric carmaker's shares plunged last week after the SEC accused Mr Musk, 47, of fraud over "false and misleading" tweets on August 7 that promised to take Tesla private and said funding had been secured.

The lawsuit threatened to pull Tesla and Musk into a long drawn-out fight that could have undermined the company's operations and ability to raise capital.

In the settlement that was announced over the weekend, Tesla and Mr Musk instead agreed to pay US$20 million each to the regulator while the billionaire - also a large Tesla shareholder - would step down as chairman but continue as CEO.

The settlement also provided for the appointment of a new chairman and directors to balance Musk's influence at the company as well as moves to oversee his output on social media.

Peter Haveles, a partner in the Trial and Dispute Resolution Practice Group said Mr Musk's tweets showed his lack of self-discipline.

"It will put intense pressure on the board because the SEC will be watching the company like a hawk in this regard and it will create additional tensions with the company and Mr Musk and the marketplace," Haveles said.

Several Twitter users also criticised Mr Musk, who has over 20 million followers on the social media platform, for his tweets targeting regulators and short sellers.

"I have lost 30 years of my life savings all in $tsla thanks to your tweets please stop," TrendTrader007 wrote.

"If you continue this self-destructive path you will lose all your ardent supporters and the goodwill from diehard $tsla longs like me," the user tweeted.