Published: Wed, October 31, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Tesla facing criminal investigation over Model 3 production, report says

Tesla facing criminal investigation over Model 3 production, report says

A published report Friday said the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation into whether electric-car maker Tesla misled investors by overstating production forecasts for its Model 3 sedan.

The Journal reported in October 2017 that when Model 3 production began in July 2017, the body shop at Tesla's Fremont, California, factory wasn't completely functional.

Now the Federal Bureau of Investigation is comparing the company's statements with its production capability during 2017.

The Tesla representative said that the company did not hide the difficulty of growth of production Model 3.

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Tesla and Musk have agreed to pay $20m each to financial regulators and, under a settlement, the billionaire will step down as the company's chairman but remain as chief executive. The Journal reported that the FBI is investigating whether the company made production estimates that it knew would be impossible to meet.

Tesla only reached a goal to build 5,000 Model 3s per week in June, although current production has fallen short of that.

But when one astute Tesla reservation holder noted that the notice of a late 2019 arrival date on Australian website had disappeared, he approached Musk via Twitter to ask what was going on.

It has previously been reported that the Justice Department is focusing its investigation on Tesla's Model 3 production problems dating back to previous year and that a criminal securities-fraud probe relating to Tesla's statement's about the vehicles is intensifying.

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Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) had a great week, with a two-day run in company stock, strong third-quarter earnings and a 25-percent uptick in shares since Monday.

Mr Musk, 47, made earlier predictions related to the Model 3 that were even more outlandish than the ones he gave past year.

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"Tesla's philosophy has always been to set truthful targets", the spokesperson added.

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Although Tesla settled a civil fraud lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, a criminal investigation by the FBI is ongoing, according to the Wall Street Journal. The stock was down less than 1% in after-hours trading following the WSJ story.

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