Former Nikola Motor Chairman Indicted for Multiple Charges of Fraud

A Federal grand jury has indicted Nikola Motor’s former chairman Trevor Milton on charges of fraud. The jury said the executive was indicted for lying about “nearly all aspects of the business” to sell more stock and bolster the company financially.

The suit primarily alleges Milton “engaged in a fraudulent scheme to deceive retail investors about Nikola’s products, technical advancements, and commercial prospects for his own personal benefit in violation of the Federal securities laws.”

The 65-page indictment also says Milton, the founder, largest shareholder, and former CEO of Nikola motor, used his social media presence and frequent appearances on podcasts and television to “flood the market with false and misleading information about Nikola.”

The criminal charges include two counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also filed civil securities fraud charges against Milton on Thursday and asked the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York to permanently ban him from acting as an officer of any kind at a company that issues securities. They also asked the court to force him to “disgorge” any ill-gotten gains and pay an unspecified fine.

It’s worth noting that the charges are against Milton the individual and not Nikola the automaker, which has been struggling of late after introducing the Badger hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered Badger EV pickup. The company itself has not been charged with anything in this suit, and, after conducting its own investigation, found that Milton made several false or misleading statements from 2016 until the company’s IPO in June of 2020.

Nikola told CNBC that it has “cooperated with the government throughout the course of its inquiry.” Milton was taken into custody earlier today and will appear before a Manhattan court later this afternoon.

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