Nikola founder Trevor Milton was convicted of fraud by a US jury on Friday after he allegedly lied to investors about the electric and hydrogen fuel cell company’s technology.
The jury found Milton guilty of securities fraud and wire fraud after deliberating for five hours. Milton was charged with securities fraud. Milton could face years in prison.
Prosecutors alleged that Milton made false and misleading statements about “almost every aspect of the business,” including that Nicola had a fully functional prototype even though he knew it wasn’t working. Milton also said he built an electric and hydrogen-powered pickup truck from the ground up with Nikola parts and technology, even though Nikola did not do so, prosecutors said.
“Trevor Milton repeatedly lied to Nicola’s investors. That’s fraud, plain and simple,” said US Attorney Damian Williams he said. In his statement after the verdict was released. “Let this case serve as a warning to anyone who plays too fast and hard to get investors to part with their money. It will not end well.”
Business partners who worked with Milton before Nicola described her to CNN Business in 2020 as being untrustworthy, exaggerating and under-delivering. Some had questions about his character and integrity.
Nicola It was officially released in 2020, and although it didn’t deliver a vehicle, it briefly surpassed Ford that year. General Motors He announced plans to invest in Nikola in 2020 and work together on an electric car. GM plans to supply the startup with equipment for hydrogen fuel cell cars.
Milton’s announcement about Nikola comes as the company joins the growing number of tech and EV companies going public through special purpose vehicles, or SPACs. According to Milton’s claims about the company, he was accused of defrauding the seller of the Utah ranch, which he received as part of the purchase price of Nicola’s stock options.
But Nicola’s shares fell sharply after the company was said to be a “sophisticated fraud”. The report was published by Hindenburg Research, a short-seller that has profited from betting against companies.
Milton, of Oakley, Utah, was indicted in July 2021.
GM later relinquished its ownership stake in Nikola and ended plans to produce the Badger pickup truck.
Milton resigned as Nicola’s chairman in September 2020, calling the report criticizing Nicola a “hit job” and a “lie”.
Nicola’s stock has fallen 95% since peaking in June 2020. The company
Last year, Nicolas agreed to pay $125 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges that he defrauded investors.