Elon Musk and Tesla begin trial over alleged fraud over 2018 tweet

Jury selection began Tuesday in a California courtroom over whether Elon Musk committed fraud by declaring he was ready to take Tesla private in two tweets in 2018.

The tweets drove Tesla’s stock price soaring, and Musk is being sued by shareholders who claim he acted irresponsibly, costing them billions of dollars.

The trial is scheduled to last three weeks and comes at a difficult moment for Musk, who is expected to be called to testify.

Tesla’s stock price has dropped in the last year as investors have been outraged by Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, the social media network to which the billionaire appears to dedicate a lot of time.

Shareholders sued Musk in 2018 for allegedly wasting billions of dollars by tweeting “financing secured” for a scheme to buy out the publicly traded electric-car producer.

Musk stated in a second tweet that “investor support has been established” and that the purchase is awaiting a shareholder vote.

“Plaintiff contends that these tweets were fundamentally untrue and artificially influenced the price of Tesla shares and other securities after they were made,” stated U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen in outlining the case for possible jurors.

Musk’s short tweets in 2018 have already drawn the attention of US officials.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States ordered Musk to resign as Tesla’s CEO and fined the business and Musk $20 million each.

Musk says he was defrauded, and his attorneys are set to present witnesses to attest for his objectives at the time, including evidence from Musk’s buddy and fellow billionaire Larry Ellison.

Jury selection began after Chen last week dismissed Musk’s plea to relocate the trial to Texas, the southern state where Musk relocated Tesla’s headquarters.

Musk’s attorneys contended that he would be denied a fair trial in San Francisco, where Twitter is headquartered.

On Tuesday, the court analyzed the replies of dozens of possible jurors to a questionnaire detailing their thoughts on Musk.

A potential juror admitted that he was unlikely to be objective. “Then there’s the billionaire thing. “I’m not a fan of these folks,” he said.

Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, advised those chosen for jury selection to retain a “open mind” even if they had already heard the prosecutors’ account.

He also begged the court not to bring up “recent Twitter occurrences.”

Musk cut off more than half of his 7,500 staff after acquiring the social networking site in October, and modified his content moderation standards, including declassifying former US President Donald Trump’s account.

“In recent months, local media has bombarded this district with prejudiced and unfavourable headlines about Mr. Musk that… have produced substantially adverse bias on the jury,” the CEO’s attorneys stated in a filing.

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