The Securities and Exchange Commission has officially established the distribution of the Tesla Fair Fund, the agency announced. The fund aims to pay investors who were negatively affected by Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s “funding secured” Tweets from 2018 as part of a settlement the automaker and Musk made with the SEC.
Investors who acquired shares of Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) between 12:48:16 p.m. EDT on August 7, 2018, and 4:00 p.m. EDT on August 8, 2018, may be eligible for a payout from a $41.2 million fund. Tesla and Musk were both fined $20 million as a part of the settlement, with the sum gaining an additional $1.2 million due to interest.
In late 2018, Musk stated he was considering taking Tesla shares private at $420 per share, concluding the communication with the now-notorious phrase “Funding secured.” The SEC then filed a civil action against Musk for violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 in connection with false and misleading statements by the Tesla CEO.
Musk maintains his innocence to this day, and stated recently that he was forced to oblige with the SEC’s consent decree or banks would stop providing Tesla with capital to fund business operations. “I never lied to shareholders,” Musk said in a courtroom regarding the decree. “I entered into the consent decree for the survival of Tesla, for the sake of its shareholders.”
During an interview with TED several months later, Musk stated the consent decree was entered because “I was told by the banks that if I chose not to settle with the SEC, the banks would cease providing working capital, and Tesla would go bankrupt immediately. That’s like having a gun to your child’s head,” Musk argued. The CEO argued he was unlawfully required to agree to the SEC’s terms. “Those bastards,” Musk said.
The Fair Fund was established on February 26, 2020, but has not been paid out yet. On March 9, the SEC requested permission to begin distributing the payouts just 10 hours after Musk requested the abolishment of the 2019 consent decree. Tesla and Musk accused the SEC of dragging its feet to give affected investors their money.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan approved the plan on March 28.
The SEC details the payout filing process:
“To receive a payment from the Fair Fund, you must satisfy the following: 1) You must have purchased or acquired Tesla common stock, listed on a U.S. exchange and registered with the Commission and traded under the symbol TSLA, during the Relevant Period; 2) Your approved transactions must calculate to a Recognized Loss Amount pursuant to the Plan of Allocation and the Distribution Payment must equal or exceed $10.00; and 3) You are not an Excluded Party as defined in the Plan of Distribution (the “Plan”).”
The form can be filed at www.SECvTeslaFairFund.com.