Fraud trial begins against Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s trial opened Tuesday in San Francisco with the selection of jurors who will have to decide whether the Tesla and Twitter boss wrote fake tweets in 2018, as alleged by investors.

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The case dates back to August 2018, when Elon Musk tweeted that he wanted to take Tesla public and then had the necessary funding to do so. His messages caused the stock to move sharply for several days.

“Plaintiffs allege that these tweets were factually false and artificially influenced Tesla’s stock price and other securities,” Judge Edward Chen concluded for the potential jury.

On Friday, a magistrate refused to overturn a trial in Texas, the US state where the multibillionaire Tesla has moved its headquarters, ensuring that an impartial jury is formed in the California city.

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The defense argued that their client could not benefit from an impartial trial in San Francisco, where it acquired Twitter in late October and where the platform has been widely criticized for decisions ranging from content moderation policies to mass layoffs.

“In recent months, the local media has saturated this district with biased and negative news about Mr. Musk,” the lawyers’ application reads.

“The local press, contrary to the usual way of covering (retrenchment plans), blamed Mr. Musk personally for the job cuts and even accused him of breaking the law. Local elected officials, including the mayor of San Francisco, participated in protests against him,” they continued.

In addition to Elon Musk, Tesla also participates in this procedure as a legal entity, as well as members of the manufacturer’s board of directors at that time.

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“He’s so stupid”

On Tuesday, the court reviewed responses from dozens of potential jurors to a questionnaire containing their opinions of Elon Musk.

“You said: + He is very bad + (…) What do you mean? “, for example, a woman asked the judge.

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“You have described Mr. Musk as arrogant, unpredictable and at times irrational. Can you explain how this idea is based on what happened on Twitter? asked another man.

“Talented but forbidden,” another citizen wrote, ensuring that he could be “neutral” if he was selected for the jury.

The potential juror admitted to him that he probably wouldn’t be impartial. “There’s also the billionaire+ aspect. I’m not a big fan of those people,” he said.

Other questionnaires described the controversial boss as a “rising businessman” and a “successful trailblazer”.

Alex Spiro, Elon Musk’s lawyer, asked prospective jurors to keep an “open mind” even if they hear the prosecution’s version first.

Even before the election, he insisted on the need not to mention “recent events on Twitter”.


The trial is scheduled to last three weeks and Elon Musk is on the witness list.

In a previous ruling in the case, the judge ruled that the popular 2018 tweet could be considered “false and misleading.”

The Tesla boss’s text messages have already caused him numerous disputes with the authorities.

America’s stock market police, the SEC, also filed a complaint at the time, believing Elon Musk had failed to provide evidence of his funding.

The regulator later forced him to hand over his chairmanship of Tesla’s board of directors, pay a $20 million fine, and later required that his tweets directly related to Tesla’s business be pre-approved by an authorized lawyer.

Elon Musk tried again in the spring to overturn the decision, to no avail.

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