Trevor Milton, founder and former CEO of electric and hydrogen car company Nikola, has been found guilty on three counts of fraud after a jury found he lied to investors to increase the startup’s shares. A lawsuit filed in 2021 accused the company of making a video of allegedly driving its Nikola One under its own power, when it actually rolled down a hill.
Milton was also accused of misleading investors about where the batteries in his vehicles came from, the development process for his pickup truck and how far along the vehicles were in development. according to Reuters. In September 2020, he resigned from his position as CEO.
Milton’s charges include one count of securities fraud and two counts of wire transfer fraud. He was acquitted on one count of securities fraud. His lawyer told Reuters that he will appeal the verdict.
The case was not against the company, which is still in business (and that… recently recalled nearly 100 vehicles), but Milton himself, who reportedly ignored Nikola’s chief engineer’s advice to postpone a launch event because the truck wouldn’t be ready. In a statement emailed to: The edge by publicist Colleen Robar, Nikola said it “appreciates”[s] court and jury attention on this case” and is “happy to close this chapter” so it can focus on its business.
Update October 14, 5:46 PM ET: Updated with statement from Nikola.