Elon Musk accused of securities fraud over Tesla tweets

Elon Musk Credit: AP

US securities regulators have filed a complaint against Tesla chief executive Elon Musk alleging that he made "false and misleading statements" about plans to take the company private in August.

The Securities and Exchange Commission says in the complaint filed on Thursday that Musk falsely claimed funding was secured to take the company private at $420 per share.

The complaint states he settled on $420 "because he had recently learned about the number’s significance in marijuana culture and thought his girlfriend 'would find it funny'."

On August 7 he tweeted:

The complaint filed in the US District Court in Manhattan says that Musk had not discussed or confirmed key deal terms including price with any funding source.

The commission is asking the court for an order that would stop Musk from being "an officer or director" of any public company.

The SEC also seeks an order enjoining Musk from making false and misleading statements along with repayment of any gains as well as civil penalties.

A message was left seeking comment from Tesla.

The statements, the complaint said "were premised on a long series of baseless assumptions and were contrary to facts that Musk knew".

Shares of Tesla fell 11% in after-hours trading to 273.56 dollars, after falling 2% before the market closed on Thursday.