Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday he intended to inform, not mislead, shareholders when he tweeted in 2018 that he had earmarked funds to take the electric car maker private. which the shareholders allege as a lie.
Musk is defending himself against allegations that he defrauded investors by tweeting on August 7, 2018, that he had “secured funding” to take Tesla private at $420 per share, and that “investor support is confirmed.”
He testified Tuesday in response to questions from his attorney Alex Spiro that he intended to share information about his interest in taking Tesla private with all investors after it had already been given to a select few.
Musk said he had already discussed his interest with Tesla’s board of directors and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, and was concerned that it would leak to the media.
“I had no bad motive,” he said. “My intention here was to do the right thing for the shareholders.”
He testified that he chose not to take Tesla private due to a lack of support from some investors and a desire to avoid a lengthy process.
Musk returned to the helm on Tuesday after around five hours on Monday and an appearance on Friday.
The lawsuit tests whether the world’s second richest person can be held liable for his sometimes reckless use of Twitter.
Tesla stock jumped after Musk’s 2018 tweet about the price of $420 per share, which was about a 23% premium to the previous day’s close, only to tumble when it became clear that the redemption would not take place. Investors say they lost millions of dollars as a result.
A nine-person jury will decide whether Tesla’s CEO artificially inflated the company’s stock price by touting takeover prospects, and if so by how much.
Musk testified that it was his “opinion” that funding was secured.
On Monday, Musk said he could have funded the deal by selling his stake in SpaceX, the aerospace company of which he is also chief executive.
Additionally, Musk testified on Monday that he met with representatives of the Public Investment Fund on July 31, 2018, at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California.
He acknowledged that a takeover price had not been discussed, but said Saudi officials had made it clear they would do whatever it took to make the takeover happen.
Musk said fund governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan later backtracked on his commitment to take Tesla private.
Al-Rumayyan’s lawyers did not return a request for comment.