U.S. securities regulators have asked Elon Musk to explain an apparent delay in reporting his stock purchases on Twitter, the agency revealed on Friday, the latest questions about the terms and intent of his troubled bid on the platform.
Musk became a major Twitter shareholder after buying 73.5 million shares in early April, and less than two weeks later launched a hostile takeover bid.
He then signed a $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,41,800 crore) deal to buy the San Francisco-based company, but has since given mixed signals about his commitment to pursue.
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) letter to Musk showed regulators had asked him to explain why he hadn’t disclosed within a required 10-day period his increased stake in Twitter, especially if he planned to buy the company.
“Your response should address, among other things, your recent public statements on the Twitter platform regarding Twitter, including statements asking whether Twitter strictly adheres to free speech principles,” the regulators said in the letter dated 4 april.
Neither Musk nor the SEC immediately responded to requests for comment.
The Tesla chief is a frequent Twitter user, regularly launching inflammatory and controversial statements about issues or other public figures with fanciful or business-oriented remarks.
He has repeatedly fought with federal securities regulators, who cracked down on his use of social media after an alleged effort to take Tesla private in 2018 failed.
Musk cited the right to free speech as a driver of his effort to overturn a deal with the SEC that tightened his use of the social media platform after his August 2018 tweet that the funding was “secured to make Tesla private.
Musk is also facing a lawsuit filed this week accusing him of driving down Twitter’s stock price in order to give himself a loophole in his takeover bid or negotiate a discount.
The lawsuit alleges Musk tweeted and made statements intended to cast doubt on the deal, which rocked the social media platform for weeks.
“Musk made statements, sent tweets, and engaged in conduct intended to create doubt about the deal and materially lower Twitter’s stock,” according to the complaint.
Its goal was to gain leverage to get Twitter at a much cheaper price, or walk out of the deal without penalty, the suit argued.