Tesla subpoenaed by Securities and Exchange Commission over Musk tweets

Elon Musk
He had previously agreed to have tweets about the company pre-approved. Photo credit: Getty Images

Tesla has confirmed it received a subpoena from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over CEO Elon Musk's tweet asking his followers if he should sell some shares.

The EV maker said on Tuesday, NZ time the SEC issued the subpoena on November 16, 2021, just 10 days after the controversial billionaire issued a poll asking his 73 million followers whether he should dispose of 10 percent of his stake in the company.

A previous SEC investigation cost Tesla and Musk US$20 million each in fines after the commission said a tweet from the CEO about taking the company private was fraudulent.

Musk also had to resign as chairman and agreed to have all public statements about Tesla checked by lawyers as part of the agreement.

The SEC has questioned on at least two occasions - once in 2019 and again in 2020 - whether that was still being done.

At the time Steven Buchholz, a senior SEC official, said Tesla was failing to "enforce these procedures and controls despite repeated violations by Mr Musk".

Tesla has "abdicated the duties required of it" by the court's order, he said.

The latest action against the company comes after it was sued in December over Musk's social media posts, including the same Twitter poll the SEC is investigating.

Tesla investor David Wagner filed suit in the Delaware Court of Chancery, seeking documentation of whether the tweets regarding stock had been pre-approved as required by the SEC settlement.

In late December it was reported that Musk had sold over US$16 billion (NZ$24 billion) in shares over 15 different transactions since the Twitter poll.

Forbes estimates Musk's wealth to be around US$235.6 billion, down approximately US$4 billion after news of the SEC investigation forced Tesla's share price down.