Former Nikola CEO found guilty of lying to investors about a hydrogen vehicle

Former Nikola CEO found guilty of lying to investors about a hydrogen vehicle

Trevor Milton, the founder and former CEO of Nikola, an electric and hydrogen car firm, was found guilty of three counts of fraud after a jury determined that he misled to investors in order to enhance the startup’s stock price. In a 2021 indictment, the business was accused of producing a film that appeared to show its Nikola One semi-truck operating on its own power, but it was really tumbling down a hill.

According to Reuters, Milton was also accused of deceiving investors about where the batteries in its cars originated from, the development process for its pickup truck, and how far the vehicles were in development. He will leave his position as CEO in September 2020.

Milton faces two counts of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud. On one allegation of securities fraud, he was acquitted. His lawyer said that he intends to appeal the judgment.

The complaint wasn’t against the firm, which is still in operation (and recently recalled over 100 cars), but against Milton, who reportedly refused Nikola’s top engineer’s suggestion to postpone a launch event because the truck wasn’t ready. Nikola said it “appreciates the court’s and jury’s attention to this subject” and is “pleased to finish this chapter” so it can concentrate on its business in a statement sent to The Verge by spokeswoman Colleen Robar.

Nikola was formed in the mid-2010s, and by 2020, investors including huge brands like GM had spent billions of dollars on the firm. However, in September of that year, a short-selling business produced a report accusing the company of fraud, citing a video uploaded by the company with the caption “Behold, the Nikola One in action.” By the end of 2021, GM had indicated that it would no longer acquire an interest in the firm, Miller had been formally charged with fraud, and the company had been fined $125 million to satisfy claims that it had misled investors.

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