Trevor Milton looked like the next Elon Musk—and may end in the nick.

nikola fake

Great reporting from Bloomberg as they cover the details about the trial of Trevor Milton the founder and chief crook of Nikola Motors.

An intriguing story about a shady character, fraud, conspiracy and how investors were fleeced for many millions of $.

The article concludes with:

In July 2021, about six months after the botched fact-finding mission, Milton was indicted on two counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud. The US Attorney’s Office claimed that he used social media, in particular, to promote false claims about his proprietary technology, which led people to invest—and then lose—tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. In December, Nikola agreed to pay $125 million to settle an SEC civil fraud case over its representations to investors. The whistleblowers all breathed a little easier, assuming that since the feds were after Milton, they must be monitoring his behavior, too.

Milton’s attorneys are arguing that any misrepresentations their client made weren’t in official filings, but on social media—and that they happened before Nikola became a publicly traded company. Meanwhile, Milton caught another charge in June. Prosecutors say he also defrauded a man who sold him a ranch in Utah by persuading him to accept Nikola stock options as payment.

Despite all this, Milton’s company is still alive. In August, Nikola named a new CEO, Michael Lohscheller, who previously worked at GM and Volkswagen. It’s hiring at its Phoenix headquarters, which currently employs about 900 people. Its stock is trading at around $5 a share, a far cry from its all-time high of $79.73 in June 2020, while the company is producing small batches of battery-electric semis.

Milton, who no longer has an official role at Nikola, offloaded more than $317 million in shares in the lead-up to his Sept. 12 trial, which is expected to last about five weeks. True believers, who can still buy a $65 Nikola-branded hoodie or $55 polo shirt at the company’s online store, point to Nikola’s recent acquisition of another company as evidence that its original vision is still within reach. On Aug. 1, Nikola bought a California-based battery maker, Romeo Power Inc., which also went public through a reverse merger. At the time, it was courting big automakers trying to compete with Tesla Inc. and was valued at $1.33 billion. But the SPAC feeding frenzy is over; Nikola scooped it up for just $144 million.

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