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        特斯拉因馬斯克言論面臨刑事調查

        彭博社 2018年09月20日

        美國證券交易委員會已向這家電動汽車制造商發出傳票,要求公司對馬斯克私有化的計劃進行說明。

        據兩名知情人士告知,美國司法部正因特斯拉及其CEO埃隆·馬斯克的公開言論對公司進行調查。此次刑事調查和之前報道的證券監管部門進行的民事調查同時進行。

        上述兩名知情人士透露,馬斯克上個月發推特稱在考慮將特斯拉私有化,而且已經找到了“可靠的資金”,因此聯邦檢察官開展了欺詐調查。因為這是機密的刑事調查,兩位知情人士不愿意透露姓名。馬斯克私有化的推文一發出就拉升了特斯拉股票。

        加州北區美國檢察官辦公室對特斯拉開展調查前,美國證券交易委員會(SEC)已向這家電動汽車制造商發出傳票,要求他們對馬斯克私有化的計劃進行說明,雖然后來馬斯克放棄了這個計劃。

        其中一名知情人士稱,當前刑事調查仍處于早期階段。美國司法部的調查和SEC的民事調查一樣,可能需要幾個月。調查結果也可能是檢察官決定不提出訴訟。

        特斯拉的股票走勢出現逆轉,下跌4.4%至282美元。紐約時間周二上午11:45,股價降低2.5%跌至287.60美元,今年以來已下跌7.7%。

        特斯拉并未立刻回應此事。舊金山美國檢察官辦公室發言人亞伯拉罕·西蒙斯拒絕發表評論。

        SEC調查

        據彭博社8月9日報道,舊金山辦公室的SEC執法律師在馬斯克發表私有化的推文前就已經開始調查特斯拉了。據上述兩名知情人士透露,當前調查主要針對特斯拉是否發布了具有誤導性的生產目標和銷售目標。

        目前尚不清楚刑事調查的范圍是否也一樣寬泛。進行證券欺詐調查的檢察官可能會就公司領導人是否故意欺瞞投資者公司的運行狀況等問題搜集證據。

        馬斯克因為8月7日發推特說獲得了資金能夠收購特斯拉而將自己置于法律風險中,盡管他的推文說的可能并非事實。差不多一周后,馬斯克說自己發推文是因為他和沙特阿拉伯的公共投資基金進行了交流,這家基金會在2017年年初首次表達了有意幫助馬斯克實現公司私有化想法。

        放棄努力

        之后,特斯拉董事會稱公司未收到兼任董事會主席的馬斯克提交正式請求,也沒有就私有化是否可行或者是否有利做出結論。馬斯克發推文后不到三周,他就放棄了這一做法。

        其中一名知情人士稱,因為馬斯克的推文已經引起了美國司法部的關注,調查人員可能會將他們的審查范圍擴大到馬斯克關于公司運轉情況的其他公開言論。他還透露,有關部門可能還會調查特斯拉首席會計官戴夫·莫頓任職不到一個月就辭職的相關情況。

        莫頓曾任電腦硬盤制造商希捷科技的首席財務官,他加入特斯拉一天后,馬斯克就發表了那條推文,說自己正在考慮以420美元一股的價錢收購股票,將公司私有化。(財富中文網)

        譯者:Agatha

        Tesla Inc. is under investigation by the Justice Department over public statements made by the company and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, according to two people familiar with the matter. The criminal probe is running alongside a previously reported civil inquiry by securities regulators.

        Federal prosecutors opened a fraud investigation after Musk tweeted last month that he was contemplating taking Tesla private and had “funding secured” for the deal, said the people, who were granted anonymity to discuss a confidential criminal probe. The tweet initially sent the company’s shares higher.

        The investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Northern District of California follows a subpoena issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission seeking information from the maker of electric cars about Musk’s plans to go private, which he has since abandoned.

        The criminal inquiry is in its early stages, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Justice Department probes, like the civil inquiries undertaken by the SEC, can take months. They sometimes end with prosecutors deciding against bringing an enforcement action.

        Tesla shares reversed gains and dropped as much as 4.4 percent to $282. The stock dropped 2.5 percent to $287.60 as of 11:45 a.m. Tuesday in New York and are down about 7.7 percent this year.

        Tesla didn’t have an immediate comment. Abraham Simmons, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco, declined to comment.

        SEC Probe

        SEC enforcement attorneys in the San Francisco office were already investigating Tesla before Musk sent his tweet on taking the company private, Bloomberg reported Aug. 9. The existing probe focuses on whether Tesla had issued misleading pronouncements on manufacturing goals and sales targets, according to two people familiar with the matter.

        It’s unclear whether the criminal investigation is that broad. Prosecutors in securities-fraud investigations could seek evidence on matters including whether company leaders intentionally lied to investors about the health of the business.

        Musk exposed himself to legal risk by tweeting Aug. 7 that he had the funding for a buyout even though that may not have been the case. Almost a week later, Musk said the basis for his statement was conversations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which first expressed interest in helping take the company private in early 2017.

        Abandoned Effort

        Tesla’s board then said that it hadn’t received a formal proposal from Musk, who’s also the company’s chairman, nor had it concluded whether going private would be advisable or feasible. Less than three weeks after his initial tweets, Musk abandoned the effort.

        Now that Musk’s tweeting has attracted the Justice Department’s attention, investigators there could extend their review to other public statements made by the CEO about the company’s health, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Authorities could also look into the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Tesla’s Chief Accounting Officer, Dave Morton, after less than a month on the job, the person said.

        Morton, a former chief financial officer for computer hard-drive maker Seagate Technology Plc, joined Tesla one day before Musk tweeted that he was considering buying out some investors at $420 a share and taking the company private.

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