Facing Fraud Charges For Lying About "Nearly All Aspects" Of Nikola, Trevor Milton Hires Elon Musk's Lawyers

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Aug 07, 2021 - 04:30 PM

Honestly, you can't make this stuff up. Nikola's Elon-Musk-Wannabe-Founder, Trevor Milton - who now has plead not guilty to, and stands accused of, three counts of fraud for lying about...well, everything...has turned to Elon Musk's lawyers for help. 

Milton has retained Terence Healy, who represented Musk when the SEC claimed he had committed securities fraud by faking an $80 billion buyout offer for Tesla, mid-day during a trading day. Healy was joined by Brad Bondi, who Milton has also hired, and was able to negotiate a settlement where Musk stepped down as Tesla's chairman. 

Milton has also hired Marc Mukasey, who is advising President Trump on the criminal case brought against his company by Manhattan's DA, Cyrus Vance, according to Bloomberg

Recall, Milton was charged with three counts of fraud just days ago. CNBC reported that Milton was charged with making false claims regarding “nearly all aspects of the business" - something Elon Musk's lawyers should have extensive experience in dealing with...

"Prosecutors say that when Milton unveiled their tractor trailer truck it had to be plugged into the wall, the headlamps were activated by remote by a staffer, and air had to be pumped in because there was a slow leak in the air lines of the truck," the report continued.

"And yes, prosecutors do say part of Milton's conduct was video of the Nikola truck in the Super Bowl ad was not in fact of a working truck but was towed to the top of a hill. Brakes were released and it rolled downhill."

An SEC complaint filed last week also revealed that footage of the truck "had been sped up two-to-three times" and that the video was "ultimately approved" by Milton.

CNBC's Phil LeBeau reported last week:  "All of this started initially with Hindenburg Research saying 'Hey look, a lot of the comments and claims that were made by Trevor Milton and Nikola regarding the ability of their semis to power themselves, videos that were shot, that they're not accurate'. Ultimately, Trevor Milton was bounced out of the job at Nikola."

The DOJ complaint against Milton said he "repeatedly made false and misleading statements about core aspects of Nikola’s products, technological advancements, and commercial prospects" including

  • (a) Falsely claiming that Nikola’s first semi-truck prototype, the Nikola One, could be driven under its own power, and using a misleading video to create the false impression that the Nikola One was, in fact, driving under its own power
  • (b) Falsely claiming that Nikola was producing hydrogen, that it was doing so at a cost that was four times less than the prevailing market rates, and that it had obtained electricity at costs that made hydrogen production profitable
  • (c) Falsely claiming that Nikola had significantly developed or already completed a prototype of an electric pickup truck, the Badger, and that this vehicle used primarily Nikola’s proprietary components
  • (d) Falsely claiming that Nikola had obtained “billions and billions and billions and billions” of dollars of committed truck orders
  • (e) Falsely claiming that Nikola had developed a “game-changing” battery technology and that Nikola was manufacturing and developing multiple key vehicle components “in-house”; and
  • (f) Falsely claiming that the total cost of ownership of Nikola’s trucks was 20-30 percent below that of diesel vehicles.

The complaint also says that Milton would regularly take action to try and stop declines in Nikola's share price <cough> Elon <cough>. It reads: 

"On days when Nikola’s stock price declined, Milton regularly attempted to direct Nikola’s senior executives to take actions to stop the price decline. Senior executives received frantic phone calls or text messages from Milton on such days in which he urged the executives to “do something.” Milton also spoke of needing to put out “good news” or some kind of announcement “to get people excited” as a way to counteract price declines or maintain support for the stock price."

The complaint also says that "Milton tracked the daily number of new Robinhood users who held Nikola stock" and apparently was excited that retail bagholders stockholders were buying the stock:

The senior executive responded, in part, by expressing his amazement at how many calls he received “from retail investors today that have no clue about Nikola, other than their friends told them to buy. A lot of hype out there with retail investors,” to which Milton replied: “That’s how you build a foundation. Love it.”

Milton also misled the public about the company's Badger pickup truck, the SEC alleged, claiming the pickup was only a "CGI rendering" and nothing more:

You can read the full complaint here:

Milton pleaded not guilty and was ultimately freed on a $100 million bond," according to FreightWaves

The report noted that bail was secured by two properties in Utah owned by Milton, "one worth $36 million, the other worth $4 million."