February 8, 2023

Trevor Milton, the Nikola Corp. founder who enticed auto-industry leaders and traders together with his promise for a revolution in electrical vans, faces a securities-fraud trial starting this week on allegations that he lied about his firm’s improvement of environmentally pleasant expertise.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan final yr accused Milton of working a scheme to counterpoint himself and enhance his stature as an entrepreneur by falsely hyping Nikola’s
NKLA,
+3.24%
prospects and duping nonprofessional traders, together with stock-market novices. He was indicted on two counts of wire fraud and two counts of securities fraud. Jury choice begins Monday.

“So as to drive investor demand for Nikola inventory, Milton lied about almost each facet of the enterprise,” then-U.S. Legal professional Audrey Strauss stated when saying the fees.

Milton, who’s 40 years outdated, has pleaded not responsible. He resigned from Nikola in 2020, a number of days after brief vendor Hindenburg Analysis launched a report alleging dozens of misrepresentations that Milton had made in regards to the enterprise, together with rolling an undrivable truck down a hill to make it seem purposeful in a advertising video.

Throughout a pretrial listening to final week, attorneys for Milton stated they’d argue their consumer acted in good religion and didn’t intend to defraud anybody. Milton may need used sure phrases like “prototype,” “purposeful,” and “present automotive” otherwise than some traders understood them, protection lawyer Marc Mukasey stated. “There’s a linguistics facet to this,” Mukasey stated.

An expanded model of this report seems in WSJ.com.

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