Elon Musk triggered a fraud investigation and a fine from the Securities Exchange Commission after he fired off a tweet that he was going to take his company Tesla public at $420 per share. At the time, the tweet was made with his ex-girlfriend Grimes and Azealia Banks in his presence and investors in a lawsuit against him with to subpoena the women but Musk’s legal team is hoping to block the move.
“It is readily apparent that this is more of an effort to sensationalize these proceedings than a legitimate attempt to preserve evidence,” attorney Dean Kristy said in a filing Thursday in federal court in San Francisco.
The Tesla shareholders say the former girlfriend, Canadian singer Claire Elise Boucher, also known as Grimes, may have first-hand knowledge about what Musk was thinking Aug. 7 when he shocked the world with a tweet: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”
The investors claim Musk and Tesla manipulated the company’s share price. They allege Musk lied about funding to push the shares higher and ambush short sellers betting against the company.
The investors cite news media accounts placing Musk in the company of Boucher, and rapper Azealia Banks, around the time of the tweet. They contend it’s not unreasonable to subpoena Boucher and Banks to ensure the preservation of anything in writing that might be relevant to the lawsuit — Twitter and Instagram messages in particular.
Banks responded to news of the filing by Musk’s attorney, writing, “This is going to get extremely ugly” before deleting the post.