Elon Musk could face a possible a jail sentence after an American regulator asked a judge to hold him in contempt for ignoring an order banning him from tweeting market-moving information about the company.
The Tesla boss could also face fines for the tween sent on February 19 which said the electric car company would make half a million cars in 2019.
The Securities and Exchange Commission claims that not only was the tweet inaccurate, but that it did not receive approval from board members, a condition of a recent settlement for market manipulation.
The tweet, which read: “Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019”, was followed four hours later with another, which said: “Meant to say annualized production rate at end of 2019 probably around 500k, ie 10k cars/week. Deliveries for year still estimated to be about 400k.”
The watchdog first filed a complaint in August last year after Musk told his then 22 million followers that he would be taking Tesla private at $420 per share, that funding had been secured and the only uncertainty was a shareholder vote.
Mr Musk’s August tweet caused Tesla’s stock price to soar by 6pc within 24 hours of it appearing online. The SEC argued that Musk had not discussed any deal terms with financing partners and that he had played with the markets by using false information.