Nikola Motors founder Trevor Milton accused of enrichment by defrauding non-professional investors
A US court has begun hearing the case of Trevor Milton, founder and former head of Nikola Motors, an electric car startup. Milton attended the court hearing and was released on $ 100 million bail.
The Nikola Motors startup is named after Nikola Tesla, but since the name of the Serbian-Croatian inventor was already taken over by Ilona Mask’s company, it took the name of the great scientist as its name. The company planned to produce hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks as well as electric trucks.
Against the background of the growth of Tesla shares, Nikola Motors also entered the stock exchange, where it gained popularity from the so-called non-professional investors. Thanks to this, the value of the company rose above $ 10 billion and at some point even exceeded the capitalization of the Ford concern, and Milton became a billionaire.
However, Milton was soon accused of defrauding investors by giving them false information about the startup’s success.
In total, the court is considering three cases of premeditated deception. First, Nikola faked a video of what was supposedly a real-life test of a hydrogen truck. In fact, the car was towed to the top of the hill and in the video descended from it using the force of gravity.
The second accusation stems from the company announcing the development of its own electric pickup truck. In fact, nothing but computer images of the car were presented.
Finally, the third charge is related to the company’s assertion that it already has its own technology for producing hydrogen, which has also not been confirmed.
In the wake of accusations, Milton stepped down as head of Nikola Motors last November, but remained the startup’s largest shareholder. He was also caught in the sale of his own shares in the company in the wake of their growth. Milton pleaded not guilty to any of the three charges.
In the past, Nikola Motors even received support from the carmaker General Motors, but later GM stopped all cooperation with the startup.
Despite all the accusations and the lack of actual production, Nikola Motors, which has yet to produce a single car, is listed on the stock exchange at a market value of $ 4.79 billion at the time of writing. This is more than, for example, the cost of Mitsubishi Motors.