Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, lashed out at the US Securities and Exchange Commission last night on Twitter, leading to an immediate fall in Tesla’s stock market value.
Mr Musk branded the SEC the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission” in a series of tweets which saw the CEO mock the regulator hours after a federal judge ordered him to justify how he and the SEC came up with a legal settlement.
The Tesla founder’s comments come days after he agreed to step down as the company’s chairman and pay a $20m (£15m) fine after the SEC sued him for alleged securities fraud.
The deal also requires that Mr Musk “establish a new committee of independent directors and put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications.”
Mr Musk tweeted: “Just want to that (sic) that the Shortseller Enrichment Commision is doing incredible work! And the name change is so on point!”
The CEO’s comments were mirrored by a fall in Tesla’s stock value, with shares falling by 4.4% to close at $281.83, dropping a further 3% after trading closed.
The SEC’s $20m fine represents only 0.1% of Mr Musk’s net worth.
Legal feud with stocks regulator
The SEC’s allegations came after Mr Musk asserted over Twitter that he planned to take Tesla off the stock market and into private ownership, declaring he had “funding secured”, which the regulator described as “false and misleading” to investors.
Mr Musk said the funding would value Tesla at $420 per share, a number he rounded up from £419 as a joke due to its significance in cannabis meme culture, to impress his girlfriend, the pop singer Grimes. He has since abandoned the plan.
As part of the SEC’s settlement, Tesla is supposed to monitor its CEO’s tweets.
In August, Mr Musk opened up about the pressure of his position, describing the past year as “excruciating” after Tesla suffered a £709.6 million loss in its first quarter.