Elon Musk, Tesla’s co-founder, has been acquitted of fraud charges related to a tweet in which he claimed he had “funding secured” to take the company private. The proposed $72 billion buyout never materialized and shareholders claimed that the tweet cost them billions of dollars. If found guilty, Musk could have faced billions in damages. The jury reached their verdict in under two hours on Friday.
Elon welcomed the outcome on Twitter, calling it “the wisdom of the people” and appreciated the jury’s unanimous finding of innocence.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission had sued Musk over the tweets, accusing him of lying to investors, leading to a $20 million settlement and his stepping down as Tesla’s board chairman.
During the trial, Musk argued he had a verbal commitment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund for the deal, but shareholders claimed “funding secured” implied more than just a verbal agreement.
After the verdict, the lawyer for the shareholders expressed disappointment and said they were considering their next steps.