Judge Extends Deadline Once Again in Tesla's Elon Musk vs. SEC Contempt Case Deal

Apparently, titans of industry and government regulators can't get along. Anyone surprised?

Kristoffer Tripplaar/ Sipa USA via AP Images

The drama continues between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as the judge hearing the most recent case against Musk just extended the deadline for the parties to reach a settlement, according to the Detroit News.

On Thursday, the lawyers for both Musk and the SEC filed a joint letter with the Federal Court of New York that states the two parties are discussing an agreement, but that they required an extension until April 25.  

Musk and the SEC’s ongoing drama stems from a series of tweets made by Tesla’s CEO last year. The tweets in question stated that Musk would be taking Tesla private and that he had secured funding to do so. However, it was later revealed that neither statement was true. According to the SEC’s original case against Musk, because of his actions, Tesla’s stock price and valuation fluctuated in such a way as to directly benefit Musk and his company. 

The SEC and Musk later reached an agreement, which saw a $20 million fine levied on Musk and Tesla respectively, as well as wording that would ensure Musk’s tweets that directly disclosed company information were to be checked by an approved lawyer before released to the public. But Musk’s recent social media habits, which included tweets concerning Tesla’s vehicle production, have drawn the ire of the SEC once again. 

The agency brought Musk back to court and claims he violated the original agreement when it was discovered that his posts were less than truthful. However, the CEO made a correction to his tweet later that same day, but not before it was widely disseminated. In the latest round, District Judge Alison Nathan allowed the recommendation to extend the deadline for talks at the behest of the letter supplied by both parties’ lawyers.

The Judge, however, ordered that both parties must meet for “at least an hour to work out their differences.” If they couldn’t, she’d hold Musk in contempt of the original agreement. What that would entail remains a mystery, however, another fine could very well be in Musk and Tesla’s future. And with the perennially cash-strapped automaker looking to boost Model 3 production and turn a profit, especially after the bad news of Panasonic pulling out of a pre-planned future investment, a fine of the magnitude as the original would be devastating.