Tesla is being probed by DOJ ‘securities or wire fraud’ over self-driving claims

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Tesla is reportedly being probed by the Department of Justice over whether its self-driving claims could constitute “securities or wire fraud.”

Reuters is reporting based on three sources:

U.S. prosecutors are examining whether Tesla committed securities or wire fraud by misleading investors and consumers about its electric vehicles’ self-driving capabilities, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The government is reported specifically looking at statements by Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk.

Tesla revealed that it received subpoenas from the DOJ late last year regarding Autopilot and its self-driving effort.

But now the Reuters report specifies that the DOJ is looking at potential wire fraud and securities fraud:

Investigators are exploring whether Tesla committed wire fraud, which involves deception in interstate communications, by misleading consumers about its driver-assistance systems, the sources said. They are also examining whether Tesla committed securities fraud by deceiving investors, two of the sources said.

The report also claims that the SEC is still looking at those claims.

These investigations are happening as Musk has recently ramped up his claims that Tesla is close to achieving self-driving. Tesla has also recently changed the name of its system from ‘Full Self-Driving Beta’ to ‘Supervised Full Self-Driving.’

Electrek’s Take

It’s not the first time that the government has been sniffing around Tesla over these issues.

I don’t know how much meat there is on this for them. Despite the fact that I agree with the fact that Elon has made too ambitious statements about self-driving with the goal of selling vehicles, he is also more cautious with his words than people give him credit for (most of the time – there are a few infamous examples).

One way I could see this going somewhere is if the DOJ has current or former Tesla engineers who claim that Tesla had a way longer timeline internally than Elon was pushing to the public. Then, there might be something.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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