Billionaire Indicted After Lying to Investors About His Business

Billionaire Indicted After Lying to Investors About His Business

( – America suffered its worst economic collapse since the Great Depression of the 1930s because of quarantines and other harsh restrictions trailing behind the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many people went to great lengths to make ends meet after facing jobs losses and layoffs.

Some people invested in Nikola Motor Company in hopes of finding some economic relief from the anticipated earnings. However, as it turns out, that may not have been such a good idea.

Nikola founder Trevor Milton walked out of a Manhattan courtroom on July 29 after pleading not guilty to fraud charges. For now, his continued freedom required him to pay a $100 million bond, backed up by two of his Utah properties valued at roughly $40 million. In addition, the court barred Milton from reaching out to investors or communicating with them in any way. It also imposed travel restrictions.

Milton resigned as chairman of Nikola, an electric vehicle start-up company, after a grand jury indicted him last September. He’s facing three criminal fraud counts for allegedly lying to investors about “nearly all aspects” of his business as part of an attempt to boost stock sales.

Prosecutors Lay Out the Case Against Milton, Lawyer Responds

Prosecutors from the Manhattan US Attorney’s office charged Milton, 39, with wire fraud and two counts of security fraud. US Attorney Audrey Strauss told reporters the case against Milton was “very straightforward.” According to her, Milton circulated false statements beginning sometime around March 2020 to increase demand for Nikola stock.

The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) followed up with civil securities fraud charges against Milton later that same day. SEC officials are asking the Southern United States District of New York to seize any ill-gotten earnings, impose an appropriate fine, and permanently bar Milton from serving in the future as an officer of any company issuing securities.

Milton’s Lawyer Responds

Milton maintains his innocence. His lead attorney, Brad Bondi, told reporters in an email that Milton was “wrongly accused” due to a “faulty and incompetent investigation.” Continuing, Bondi claimed federal investigators “ignored critical evidence” and failed to contact key witnesses.

Milton’s legal team also referred to his “long-term vision of helping the environment” by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation industry.

John Coffee, a Columbia University securities law professor, said it would probably be in Milton’s best interest to enter into a plea agreement with prosecutors “if he is rational.” Milton’s next scheduled hearing hasn’t been docketed yet.

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