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Tesla Fields a Fresh SEC Inquiry After Another Probe Ends

Gabrielle Coppola and Dana Hull

(Bloomberg) -- Tesla Inc. isn’t yet in the clear with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

On Dec. 4, the same day the agency closed its second investigation into the electric-car maker in as many years, the SEC sent a subpoena seeking information on a fresh set of matters, Tesla disclosed in a regulatory filing Thursday. The regulator is looking into “certain financial data and contracts including Tesla’s regular financing arrangements,” according to the company.

The investigation the SEC closed in December related to projections and public statements regarding Model 3 production rates. Earlier in 2019, the agency went to court with Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk over tweets he sent about how many cars the company would build for the year. A judge forced the two sides to shore up a settlement reached in 2018 over claims Musk made during his short-lived efforts to take Tesla private.

Tesla shares shrugged off the disclosure, surging as much as 6.6% on its plan to raise as much as $2.3 billion from a stock offering. Judy Burns, an SEC spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Two days after the SEC issued the subpoena late last year, Tesla lost its third general counsel in a year. Jonathan Chang, who first joined the carmaker in 2011 and was elevated to the role in February, left Tesla to work for an artificial intelligence startup. Alan Prescott has taken over the general counsel role on an acting basis, according to his LinkedIn profile.

While the SEC has closed its investigation into Musk’s statements about taking Tesla private and Model 3 production rates, the Justice Department has also been looking into those matters. Bloomberg News reported a month after Musk falsely claimed to have secured funding for a buyout that federal prosecutors had launched a criminal probe.

Tesla doesn’t say in its filing whether the Justice Department investigation is ongoing. Representatives for the department didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

(Updates with shares, SEC declining to comment in the fourth paragraph)

--With assistance from Matt Robinson and Tom Schoenberg.

To contact the reporters on this story: Gabrielle Coppola in New York at gcoppola@bloomberg.net;Dana Hull in San Francisco at dhull12@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at ctrudell1@bloomberg.net, Kevin Miller, Gregory Mott

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