Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, was accused by federal regulators on Thursday of misleading investors with false public statements, a move that could force him out of the company’s leadership.
At issue is Mr. Musk’s declaration on Twitter last month that he had “funding secured” to buy out the stock of the electric-car maker. The prospect created a firestorm on social media and in the markets that sent Tesla’s shares soaring.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Mr. Musk of committing fraud by making false public statements with the potential to hurt investors.
The suit seeks to bar Mr. Musk, who is also Tesla’s chairman, from serving as an executive or director of publicly traded companies like Tesla. Such a punishment is one of the most serious remedies the S.E.C. can impose against a corporate executive.
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