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Tesla CEO Musk calls the SEC 'the Shortseller Enrichment Commission'

Tesla’s top executive Elon Musk can’t keep his fingers off the keyboard.

The CEO of the electric vehicle maker (TSLA) fired off a tweet Thursday afternoon in an apparent snub of the Securities and Exchange Commission, referring to the agency as the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”


Within the hour of the original tweet, Musk responded to a comment on his Tweet professing to apologize for the “typo” in the original tweet (as he seemed to leave out the word “say”). He also responded to several others.

Musk and the SEC came to an agreement late last week to settle charges alleging that the billionaire had defrauded investors in statements relating to an August 7 tweet about bringing the company private with “funding secured.” The SEC’s complaint said that Musk “falsely indicated” that he could “take Tesla private at a purchase price that reflected a substantial premium over Tesla stock’s then-current share price, that funding for this multi-billion dollar transaction had been secured, and that the only contingency was a shareholder vote.”

The two parties reached the settlement just two days after the SEC issued the charges, which had sent Tesla shares plunging. Under terms of the settlement, neither Musk nor Tesla admitted or denied the allegations. Tesla and Musk must each pay $20 million, and Musk will lose his seat as chairman of the board for at least three years but stay on as CEO.

As part of the agreement, the SEC also required that Tesla implement “additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications.” 

The SEC declined to comment about the latest tweet, and a spokesperson for Tesla was not immediately available for comment. The tweet could become problematic, given the SEC case.

FILE PHOTO: Tesla Chief Executive Office Elon Musk speaks at his company’s factory in Fremont, California, U.S., June 22, 2012. REUTERS/Noah Berger/File Photo

On Thursday, the federal judge responsible for green-lighting the settlement asked the SEC and Musk to provide a joint statement explaining why the deal should be approved. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan allowed one week for the two to provide the letter, and said that the court needs to make a “minimal determination of whether the agreement is appropriate,” according to CNBC. 

Tesla has consistently been one of the most-shorted U.S. stocks as many investors continue to bet on declines in share prices. Tesla shorts were up more than $1.2 billion after the SEC filed its lawsuit against Musk, according to S3 Partners data from Sept. 28. Short interest was $10.19 billion, with more than 33 million shares shorted, or nearly 26% of the company’s float. 

Shares of Tesla ended Thursday down 4.40% to $281.83. The stock is down about 12% in 2018.

Tesla (TSLA) has had a wild ride in 2018. (Photo: Yahoo Finance)

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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