Elon Musk has denied passing information that could have hurt Tesla’s share price to his brother Kimbal after reports that both men have become the subject of an insider trading probe by US regulators.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is inquiring about Kimbal Musk’s sale of the electric-car company’s stock the day before his brother launched a poll on Twitter last November about whether he should sell a large chunk of his own stake in the company, to Wall Street The magazine reported on Thursday.
Tesla’s share price fell 5 percent on the first day of trading thereafter the survey, which was supported by an overwhelming majority of those entitled to vote.
In response to a request from the FT, Musk replied in an email, “Kimbal had no idea I was going to do a Twitter poll.”
He also claimed Tesla’s attorneys were “aware” that he would be conducting the survey. The characteristically unconventional move led to questions about whether Musk had notified the company’s attorneys, as he was required to do based on a previous settlement with the SEC.
The investigative report comes days after Musk’s attorneys accused the SEC launch a harassment campaign against him.
“The idea that I would care if my brother could sell stock for a few million dollars less when my Twitter poll resulted in my own stock sale costing over a billion dollars less is completely absurd,” Musk said.
In an apparent reference to the vendetta he has accused the SEC of, he added that the investigation “is simply further evidence of Stevie sharpening his tiny ax all over again.”
A Feb. 18 letter from the SEC to the court denying any harassment was signed by Steven Buchholz, a regional enforcement director for the SEC. The SEC declined comment.
Kimbal Musk sold 88,500 Tesla shares worth about $108 million the day before the Twitter poll was announced. He could not be reached immediately for comment.
Additional reporting by Stefania Palma
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