Government regulators asked a federal judge on Monday to hold Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk in contempt of court after he allegedly violated a settlement reached last year with an inaccurate tweet.
In a federal court filing, the Securities and Exchange Commission pointed to a Feb. 19 post in which the billionaire tech entrepreneur said that Tesla “made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500K in 2019.”
“Musk did not seek or receive pre-approval to publishing this tweet, which was inaccurate and disseminated to over 24 million people,” the agency's filing said.
Four hours after the Feb. 19 tweet, Musk appeared to clarify, saying in a follow-up post that he “meant to say annualized production rate at the end of 2019 probably around 500K, ie 10K cars/week. Deliveries for year still estimated to be about 400K.”
But in its filing, the agency said Musk had violated an Oct. 16 settlement with regulators that included a $20 million fine, forced Musk to step down as Tesla’s chairman and required company officials to pre-approve Musk’s communications, CNBC reported.
The settlement came after an Aug. 7 tweet from Musk that said he was taking the electric carmaker private and had already secured funding.
The SEC accused Musk of fraud, saying that statement was “false and misleading.”
In a tweet on Monday night, Musk did not address the SEC’s request to the court, but he claimed that the agency “forgot” to read the transcript of Tesla's quarterly earnings call last month.
During the call, Musk said Tesla would “maybe” make 350,000 to 500,000 Model 3 sedans this year.
“How embarrassing,” Musk said.