Nikola founder was a ‘crook’, US attorney tells jurors, Auto News, ET Auto
NEW YORK — A prosecutor on Thursday urged jurors to convict Nikola Corp founder Trevor Milton of fraud, calling him a “con man” who lied about the low-emission vehicle company to defraud ordinary investors.
Federal prosecutors during oral arguments in New York say Milton misled investors about the electric and hydrogen truck maker’s technology starting in November 2019. Milton left the company in September 2020 after a report short seller Hindenburg Research called the company a “fraud”. “
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Estes recapped evidence from the trial that began last month, including testimony from particular investors that prosecutors said Milton had targeted in podcasts, interviews and social media.
“Trevor Milton is a crook,” Estes told the jury. “His lies may have been spread on social media, but it was an old fashioned fraud.”
Milton’s lawyers said he believed in his vision for the company and that prosecutors misrepresented his statements about Nikola’s plans to shake up the auto industry.
Prosecutors said Milton made false claims about Nikola’s progress in developing its technology as the company joined the growing number of technology and electric vehicle companies made public through acquisition vehicles for use. special, or SPAC.
They said Milton’s incorrect statements included that Nikola built a hydrogen-electric “Badger” pickup from “the ground up”, developed batteries in-house that he knew he was buying elsewhere, and had quickly managed to create a “Nikola One” semi-trailer that he knew was not working.
Milton’s attorneys said Nikola’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission made it clear it was a start-up company and investments in it were highly speculative.
The case is US v. Milton, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 1:21-cr-00478.