The SEC investigation into Tesla is likely to focus on Elon Musk’s statements and actions related to the automaker’s self-driving capabilities. Specifically, the SEC may question whether Musk has made false or misleading statements about Tesla’s FSD and Autopilot features.
Musk likely faces increased scrutiny from the SEC because of his role in marketing a product he knew to be fraudulent. Tesla’s Autopilot software is supposed to help drivers avoid accidents, but recent testimony revealed that the video released in 2016 purporting to show a Tesla vehicle driving itself was in fact staged. It’s possible that Musk will face additional scrutiny after this revelation, as regulators look into whether he was irresponsible and misleading when he released the false video.
According to the SEC, it appears that Musk is making false and misleading forward-looking claims when suggesting that FSD would achieve essentially driver-free navigation capabilities within timelines that have not ended up proving accurate. The SEC is hoping this case will warn other public companies away from making similar unproven claims in the future.
If the SEC finds that Musk violated federal securities laws, they could pursue legal action against him, including imposing limitations on his future activity as an officer of a public company. This could significantly damage Musk’s reputation and disrupt his ability to lead SpaceX and Tesla towards success.