Trevor Milton, founding father of Nikola Corp., exits federal courtroom in New York, U.S., on Thursday, July 29, 2021.
Angus Mordant | Bloomberg | Getty Pictures
Nikola founder Trevor Milton pled not responsible to fraud fees in a Manhattan courtroom Thursday afternoon after federal prosecutors accused him of deceptive buyers in regards to the capabilities and applied sciences of the electrical automobile start-up.
Miton, who resigned as chairman in September, was freed on a $100 million bond secured towards two of his Utah properties valued at $40 million. He’s barred from contacting buyers and was issued journey restrictions by the courtroom. It was his first main look since resigning from the corporate and deleting his social media accounts.
A federal grand jury charged Milton with three counts of legal fraud for mendacity about “practically all elements of the enterprise” to bolster inventory gross sales of the electrical automobile start-up, based on an indictment unsealed Thursday.
Milton’s attorneys vehemently defended his innocence.
His authorized staff, led by Brad Bondi, mentioned Milton was “wrongfully accused following a defective and incompetent investigation,” and that justice will not be served till he is exonerated, based on an emailed assertion despatched Thursday.
Learn the complete assertion from Milton’s authorized staff:
Trevor Milton is harmless; it is a new low within the authorities’s efforts to criminalize lawful enterprise conduct. Each govt in America ought to be horrified.
Trevor Milton is an entrepreneur who had a long-term imaginative and prescient of serving to the setting by slicing carbon emissions within the trucking trade.
Mr. Milton has been wrongfully accused following a defective and incomplete investigation during which the federal government ignored important proof and did not interview vital witnesses.
From the start, this has been an investigation looking for against the law. Justice was not served by the federal government’s motion right this moment, however it will likely be when Mr. Milton is exonerated.
The grand jury mentioned Milton ought to forfeit all property “traceable to the fee of mentioned offenses,” which might possible embody the greater than $1 billion he earned when Nikola went public in June 2020.
Shares of Nikola have been down by as a lot as 11% throughout early buying and selling Thursday. The inventory was buying and selling at $12.73 a share, down by 10.3% as of midafternoon.
The Securities and Alternate Fee additionally filed civil securities fraud fees towards Milton on Thursday. The SEC requested the U.S. District Court docket of the Southern District of New York to completely bar him from performing as an officer at an organization that points securities, to disgorge all ill-gotten positive factors and pay a nice.