US Judge Denies Musk Bid to Scrap SEC Deal Barring Him From Tweeting About Tesla Stake

© AFP 2023 / OLIVIER DOULIERYIn this photo illustration, a phone screen displays the Twitter account of Elon Musk with a photo of him shown in the background, on April 14, 2022, in Washington, DC
In this photo illustration, a phone screen displays the Twitter account of Elon Musk with a photo of him shown in the background, on April 14, 2022, in Washington, DC - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.04.2022
WASHINGTON, (Sputnik) - Elon Musk on Wednesday lost his legal challenge against a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) order restricting him from tweeting about his stake in the electric car manufacturer Tesla, with a judge describing as “meritless” Musk's argument that the arrangement impinged on his right to free speech.
“The motion […] to terminate the consent decree is DENIED,” Judge Lewis Liman wrote in his ruling after Musk sought to scrap his 2018 settlement with the SEC over tweets he made about having adequate funding to buy up Tesla and turn the publicly-listed firm he founded in 2003 into a privately-owned one.
Liman also denied Musk’s bid to quash SEC subpoenas seeking information from the businessman about possible violations of his settlement with the commission, after Musk waged a public poll on Twitter on November 6 last year, asking millions of users of the microblogging site on whether he should sell 10% of his stake in Tesla.
The judge said there was no evidence whether Musk actually did abide with the results of the poll, despite the businessman telling respondents that he would.
The SEC’s subpoenas imply that Musk’s November tweets are related to those covered by his 2018 settlement with the commission - that expressly obtained his agreement not to issue any more unsubstantiated tweets on his Tesla stake.
Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro said the SEC was trampling on Musk's right to free speech, but Liman sided with the commission in his ruling.
“Musk’s argument that the SEC has used the consent decree to harass him and to launch investigations of his speech is likewise meritless and, in this case, particularly ironic,” wrote the judge, who noted that Musk had repeatedly issued contentious tweets on Tesla, testing the commission’s resolve to act.
Liman also said it was “unsurprising” that when Musk tweeted an intent to sell a 10% stake in Tesla and that he planned to relinquish control over that decision to the majority opinion expressed in his Twitter poll that the SEC “would have some questions”.
“Musk cannot now seek to retract the agreement he knowingly and … willingly entered by simply bemoaning that he felt like he had to agree to it at the time but now - once the specter of the litigation is a distant memory and his company has become, in his estimation, all but invincible - wishes that he had not,” Liman concluded.
The ruling against Musk came as billionaire entrepreneur, who calls himself a “free-speech absolutist,” gained the world's attention after successfully pulling off a bid this week to buy Twitter for $44 billion and take the company listed on the New York Stock Exchange private.
Musk's wealth is estimated by Forbes to be worth $270 billion, making him the world richest man,  Musk is also a keen space travel explorer and cryptocurrency advocate, among other things.
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