By Marlo Von der Ahe ’20

Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tesla Inc., stepped down from his position as Chairman of the Board on Saturday, Sept. 29  in light of recent fraud charges brought upon by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Musk can remain the CEO but must pay a $20 million dollar fee himself and another $20 million for his company.

It is uncertain whether or not these changes to Musk’s position will affect the company as a whole, the people who buy Teslas, or the towns which house many of the cars, like Westport.

Emmy Bassler ’21 doesn’t seem to think it will make much difference within the community.

“I mean I know that the stock will probably fall a little bit, but I don’t think it [Musk stepping down] was big enough to reach all the way out to Westport,” Bassler said. “I think the amount of Tesla’s in Westport will not increase or decrease- I think it will just stay the same.”

It all started on Aug. 7, 2018, when Musk tweeted that he was considering taking his company private at $420 a share.

“Musk’s misleading tweets caused Tesla’s stock price to jump by over six percent on August 7, and led to significant market disruption,” the SEC wrote.

The SEC filed a lawsuit on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, against Tesla Inc. to investigate how Musk was interacting with the investors.  “In a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Mr. Musk of committing fraud by making false public statements with the potential to hurt investors,” The New York Times wrote.

The hearing, that took place on the weekend of Sept. 28, ended with Tesla Inc. settling with the SEC, resulting in changes alongside Musk’s stepping down. According to the SEC, the terms the company has accepted are related to appointing two new independent directors to the company’s board and the establishment of a new committee of independent directors to oversee Musk’s communications with investors.

Now that Tesla Inc. has run into this trouble with the SEC, it is unknown whether or not the popularity of the company will rise or fall in places like Westport. Only time will tell how the company will respond to these charges.

“Musk’s stepping down will affect the company”, Aidan Rogers ’22 said. “He [Musk] makes the company, so the more he loses his high position, the more Tesla Inc. will suffer.”

 

Photo contributed by Flickr

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