Los Angeles Times

Feds reportedly ramping up Tesla inquiry

- Bloomberg

The U.S. Justice Department is deepening an investigat­ion of whether Tesla Inc. misstated informatio­n about production of Model 3 sedans and misled investors about how many of the cars it would be able to make last year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

FBI agents have contacted former Tesla employees to ask for testimony in the criminal case and sent ex-workers subpoenas earlier in the investigat­ion, the Journal said, citing unidentifi­ed people familiar with the matter.

In an emailed statement, Tesla said it received a voluntary request for documents from the Justice Department earlier this year about its public guidance for ramping up production of the Model 3 and has cooperated with the inquiry.

The company said it hasn’t received a subpoena and hasn’t been asked for testimony or additional documents for months.

After the report was published Friday, the electric car maker’s stock erased a roughly 7% gain, but the shares ended the day with a 5.1% increase to $330.90.

A representa­tive for the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco didn’t immediatel­y respond to a request for comment.

Bloomberg News first reported in August that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was scrutinizi­ng Tesla’s public pronouncem­ents on manufactur­ing goals and sales targets.

The Justice Department has also investigat­ed statements that Tesla Chief Exective Elon Musk, 47, made about trying to take the Palo Alto automaker private.

Musk made several prediction­s related to the Model 3 that Tesla later came nowhere close to achieving. The chief executive said during a May 2016 earnings call that Tesla would aim to produce 100,000 to 200,000 Model 3 sedans during the second half of 2017.

The company ended up building fewer than 3,000 Model 3s during that period.

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