The U.S. Justice Department has joined the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in examining allegations into Nikola.
Just days after a bombshell report from short-seller Hindenburg Research labeled the EV startup as an “intricate fraud,” it has been revealed that the Justice Department’s Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office is investigating claims the company misled investors by making exaggerated claims about its technology.
This news comes shortly after it was revealed that the SEC has also initiated its own examination of the claims about Nikola, The Wall Street Journal Reports.
It is understood that the SEC is still in its early stages of reviewing the claims leveled against Nikola with a person familiar with the matter adding that it remains unclear how far along the Justice Department is with its own probe. Whereas the SEC can initiate civil charges against Nikola if there’s evidence of wrongdoing, the Justice Department can bring federal criminal charges.
In a statement, a Nikola representative didn’t comment on whether the company had been contacted by the Manhattan D.A., simply stating, “When we have something to disclose, we will.”
In Hindenburg Research’s report into Nikola, it is claimed that Nikola founder Trevor Milton has made “dozens of false statements.” More specifically, it is claimed that when Milton said the Nikola One was a fully functioning truck when it was unveiled, it actually wasn’t and was instead setup to run on compressed natural gas.
The short-seller also asserted that Nikola used a non-running truck in a promotional clip for the Nikola One and rather than actually driving it, instead showed it rolling down a hill. Nikola has since defended itself, stating that it never claimed the vehicle was moving under its own power.