Tesla Whistleblower's Lawyer Spoke With SEC Enforcement

Attorney Stuart Meissner, who as we reported previously represents former Tesla employee Martin Tripp in the whistleblower tip he filed with the SEC earlier this month, and who two weeks ago said that he "would short Tesla based on what I know", tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that he got a call back from the agency’s enforcement division.

“Will be following up next week. We intend to fully cooperate. Will not be commenting on our interactions going forward out of respect for the SEC."

Tripp, a process engineering at Tesla’s battery factory in Nevada, left Tesla on June 19 and was sued by the company shortly thereafter. Tripp accused that Tesla had:

  • Placed batteries containing dangerous puncture holes in vehicles which proceeded to the end of the assembly line in a process known internally at Tesla as “Containment AR622” and which input into vehicles was tracked until the end of the assembly line process;
  • Overstated to investors the number of Model 3 vehicles being produced each week by as much as 44%. The whistelblower alleges that the famed factory board which reflects a daily Model 3 production count and often referred to by Tesla is inflated;
  • Lowered vehicle specifications impacting upon safety such as placing battery cells too close to one another and which were not properly affixed, risking future combustion; and
  • Systematically reused parts already deemed scrap/waste in vehicles without regard to safety.

He also accused Tesla of placing battery cells too close together and not properly securing them, raising the risk of future combustion, as well as "systematically" reusing parts that had been deemed to be scrap or waste.

Two weeks ago, Meissner explained why Tripp did not go directly to the SEC, saying that "he & many did/dont know of the program. If it were up to me he would have gone directly there via us- likely would not have been sued. FYI-no such thing as "applying for whistleblower status."

He then provided another tantalizing tidbit: saying that when compared to the 6-year-old Monsanto litigation, which led to a $80 million fine and a whistleblower award, he said "the allegations here are much more serious"

Finally, when discussing the especially public nature of this confrontation, Meissner explained that "most cases dont receive much publicity before there is an award or SEC action because most (all of mine) whistleblower client's are not known to the public. This case is different as Tesla rushed to tar and feather him before he had a chance to go to the regulators or see a lawyer."

Whether or not Tripp has a case, or whether Musk can continue to sleep soundly (on the factory floor), will depend on how seriously the SEC takes the whistleblower complaints and whether it launches a formal probe.

And for an important hint what may be coming next, twitter user ICO 14001 highlights that "yesterday, SEC updated tomorrow's closed meeting agenda  to include "A formal order of investigation."

Is the weather in Muskville about to get extra stormy?