BREAKING NEWS: Billionaire Trevor Milton – who founded electric truck firm Nikola – is charged with three counts of fraud for ‘misleading investors and lying about nearly ALL aspects of the business’
- Trevor Milton was charged with three counts of making false and misleading statements Thursday
- It is claimed he lied to investors about his embattled electric truck start-up
- Milton earned an estimated $1 billion when Nikola went public in June 2020
- A grand jury said he should forfeit those earnings while the probe into his alleged offenses continues
- Shares in Nikola plummeted more than 9% to below $13 a share
The billionaire founder of electric truck firm Nikola has been charged with three counts of fraud for allegedly lying to investors about ‘nearly all aspects of the business.’
Trevor Milton, 39, was indicted on two counts of securities fraud, including making false statements about the company, and wire fraud, the US Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Federal prosecutors said in the newly-unsealed grand jury indictment that, from November 2019 to September 2020, Milton schemed to defraud investors into buying Nikola shares through misleading statements about the company’s product and technology development.
Under the indictment, the billionaire is ordered to forfeit all property ‘traceable to the commission of said offenses,’ which will likely include more than $1 billion he pocketed went he took Nikola public last June.
The charges come after the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into the business back in September – just days after General Motors announced a lucrative partnership with the company.
Trevor Milton, pictured, has been charged with wire fraud over claims he lied about his electric truck start-up Nikola
Shares in Nikola plummeted more than 9 percent to below $13 a share before Thursday’s opening bell as news of the charges broke.
Nikola did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In February, Nikola disclosed, following a review by an outside law firm, that both it and Milton had made several statements that were partially or completely inaccurate.
Milton stood down as executive chairman from the truck start-up company he founded in September after allegations he lied to investors first surfaced.
The billionaire claimed he was voluntarily stepping aside so that the focus would be on the company and ‘its world-changing mission.’
He was replaced by Stephen Girsky, a Nikola board member and former vice-chairman at General Motors (GM).
At the time, Milton was estimated to have a net worth of at least $3.2 billion.
Earlier that month, Hindenburg Research said in a paper that Nikola was short-selling stock and labelled the company a ‘fraud’, a charge it denied.
Milton founded Nikola in Phoenix in 2015 to develop green energy trucks and pick-ups powered by electric batteries or hydrogen fuel cells.
Six years later and the company is yet to build anything.
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