The question of whether Elon Musk committed fraud by tweeting in 2018 that he was about to take Tesla private began on Tuesday.
The process of selecting jurors to evaluate the evidence began in a federal courtroom in San Francisco, where Tesla CEO Elon Musk was anticipated to testify.
The case goes back to August 2018, when Musk tweeted that he had enough money to take Tesla private, which sent the share price of the company spiraling out of control.
The post that stated funding was “secured” to buy out the company’s shareholders allegedly cost shareholders billions of dollars, which is why Musk was sued by shareholders.
While summarizing the case for potential jurors, US District Court Judge Edward Chen stated, “The plaintiff alleges that these tweets were materially false and artificially affected the price of Tesla stock and other securities after they were made.”
Chen said that Musk’s lawyers will say that at trial, they won’t be able to prove that Musk’s tweet was “materially false” or that it hurt shareholders.
Chen turned down Musk’s request last week to move the proceedings to Texas, where Musk moved Tesla’s headquarters.
The multibillionaire’s defense attorneys argued that he would not get a fair trial in San Francisco, where he bought Twitter at the end of October and has been widely criticized for his actions since.
Over half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees were fired by Musk when he took control, and the site’s content moderation policies were drastically altered.
Authorities have already been alerted by Musk’s brief 2018 tweet.
Musk was fined $20 million and ordered to resign as chairman of Tesla’s board by the Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States.
However, media reports claim that there was a concern that discussing the SEC case would sway jurors during the fraud trial.