Elon Musk appeared in court in Wilmington, Delaware to answer charges related to the acquisition of SolarCity, a company that deals with photovoltaic panels and which was founded by its cousins. According to some shareholders and pension funds, who took him to court, Musk would have piloted the purchase of the company for personal advantage, inflating the market price up to 2.6 billion dollars. At the time of the acquisition in 2016, SolarCity was under liquidity problems and Musk was already a 22% shareholder.
During the interrogation the prosecution and the judges tried to understand his actual role within the companies related to him, such as Tesla. The electric car manufacturer has a board of directors that contributes to decisions, and Musk, while not liking (according to him) the role of CEO, said he is basically forced to stay: “I have tried several times to get rid of the office, but there are no alternatives: I have to continue to be CEO of Tesla, otherwise the company will close“. Musk would not have explained further why he believes a future of the company is not possible without his involvement at the top.
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On SolarCity Musk explained that it was Tesla’s board of directors that managed the acquisition: “I was not part of the terms negotiation. I don’t know what happened in detail“. One of the pivots of the process relates to Musk’s influence on Tesla, despite appearing as a minority shareholder. The suspicion is that ties to the board and its dominant style lead him to actually act as a majority shareholder.
“My relationship with the council is good. They work hard and are competent. They give good advice and are rigorous in dealing with shareholdersMusk said of the board of directors. The judge will try to prove whether Musk really threatened the board members regarding Tesla and SolarCity affairs. They will all be called to testify on the matter this week.