- Musk defended his “funding secured” tweet in a securities fraud lawsuit brought by Tesla shareholders.
- He testified that he sent the tweet after verbal assurances from Saudi investor Yasir Al-Rumayyan.
- Musk blamed Al-Rumayyan, whom he accused of “going back” on his plans.
Elon Musk said he had tweeted about planning to take Tesla private in part after assurances from a major Saudi investor, whom he accused of “backing down” and “covering his ass” later to wriggle out of an alleged deal.
In an ongoing civil lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco, Musk went on to defend his 2018 tweet about having “funds secured” for a Tesla transaction, saying Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Saudi Arabian Private Investment Fund , had “verbally expressed his support for the plan.
Musk said that in a meeting in July 2018, Al-Rumayyan told him, Tesla’s then-CFO Deepak Ahuja and Musk’s then-chief of staff Sam Teller that Saudi investors “were committed” to a plan they were discussing. take the private automaker.
He said Al-Rumayyan told them they would “do whatever it takes to get it done”, and that he had been “unequivocal” about his support for the deal. Then, in a conversation after Musk’s tweet, Al-Rumayyan softened his stance to say the Saudi PIF was interested in pursuing potential investment opportunities with Tesla, Musk said.
“At this point, Yasir is obviously taking back what he told me, Deepak and Sam, that they were committed to the transaction,” Musk said in testimony Monday in the ongoing civil trial, in which Musk faces investor claims. that he misled them about wanting to take Tesla private and getting the funds to do it.
“This is a cover, for lack of a better word,” he added, suggesting that Al-Rumayyan may have been concerned about possible legal exposure.
Al-Rumayyan, Musk and lawyers for Musk and Tesla shareholders did not respond to Insider’s request for comment before publication. Spokespersons for PIF and Tesla also did not respond to a request for comment. The request was made outside of normal business hours in Saudi Arabia.
In text messages between Musk and the investor that were disclosed last year as part of the pre-trial discovery process, the Tesla CEO accused Al-Rumayyan of throwing him “under the bus.” At the time, the texts show that Al-Rumayyan said that PIF could not commit to a project “about which we do not have enough information.”
In 2020, the sovereign wealth fund sold 99.5% of its Tesla holdings after covering its electric car position in 2019, shortly after Musk agreed to pay a $20 million fine with the Securities and Exchange Commission. for his tweet.
Musk is set to take the stand for a third day on Tuesday. The billionaire claims he planned to take Tesla private when he tweeted “financing secured” in August 2018. Tesla shareholders who bought up the electric carmaker’s shares in the days after the tweet are suing him, seeking billions of dollars in damages.
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