Electric truck maker Nikola revealed late Monday that it was hit with a grand jury subpoena from the Justice Department in September amid accusations that the company has lied about its technology.
The embattled startup’s former CEO Trevor Milton — who left the company following a slew of allegations by a short-seller claiming that the company was an “intricate fraud,” and who was later accused of sexual assault — received a subpoena as well, the company said in a securities filing.
Nikola also said it received a grand jury subpoena from the New York County District Attorney’s Office the same month, as well as subpoenas from the Securities and Exchange Commission to its board and eight of its officers and employees.
The scrutiny from law enforcement came following allegations from short seller Hindenburg Research that Milton made bogus claims about his automaker’s technology in order to secure important corporate partnerships, including with General Motors, which has taken an 11 percent stake in Nikola and entered into a multibillion-dollar manufacturing deal with the company.
In its report, Hindenburg called Nikola “an intricate fraud built on dozens of lies” over the course of Milton’s career, and accused the company of staging a January 2018 video of its Nikola One semi truck by filming it rolling down a hill in neutral, rather than powered by its own engine.
Nikola has denied allegations of wrongdoing, calling the report “a hit job for short sale profit driven by greed.”
On an earnings call with analysts Monday, the company’s new CEO Mark Russell said Nikola would cooperate with the investigations.
“Our counsel has been in close contact with the SEC and the Department of Justice,” Russell said. “We are fully cooperating with both in their request for information and documents.”
Nikola shares were down 1.7 percent Tuesday afternoon, trading at $18.30. The stock is down more than 60 percent since September.