Trevor Milton Nikola Headshot 6104176b0515a 634e8b8857c8e 634f16dc18866

Nikola founder convicted of fraud

Oct. 18, 2022
The electric vehicle company's former CEO had been charged with lying to shareholders about the capabilities of Nikola's electric trucks.

Founder and former CEO of Nikola Corp. Trevor Milton was convicted on Oc. 14 on three charges of criminal fraud after accusations of lying about the capabilities of the company’s electric trucks.

Milton resigned from Nikola in September 2020 after investment research firm Hindenburg Research reported several lies Milton had told investors. Milton alleged the Nikola One was fully functional in 2016, but several components were missing, and images of the truck’s user interface were doctored. Milton had ordered engineers to customize a Ford F-150 so he could pass it off as a Nikola vehicle. Milton claimed the company was producing hydrogen at $4 per kilogram, a quarter of the typical price, but Nikola had no permits to produce hydrogen nor equipment to produce it. Hindenburg also reported a video of a Nikola truck driving was simply the truck being rolled down a hill.

See also: Nikola founder Trevor Milton charged with fraud

Milton had pleaded not guilty to securities and wire fraud. He was released on $100 million bail.

Milton’s lawyer, Marc Mukasey, said there would be an appeal, according to the Associated Press.

Nikola CEO Mark Russell, who will be replaced by Michael Lohscheller next year, told jurors that Milton was “prone to exaggeration” when speaking with investors. Sentencing for Milton has been set for Jan. 27.

Nikola’s share price was up to $65.90 in June 2020. At the market’s close on Oct. 17, it was pegged at $2.97.

Under new leadership, Nikola launched its European Nikola Tre battery-electric truck and unveiled a fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) version at the IAA Transportation 2022 in Hannover, Germany. The Tre FCEV is expected to arrive in North America in the second half of 2023. In September, Nikola signed an agreement with Bosch that would allow Nikola's Coolidge, Arizona, plant to build Bosch fuel-cell power modules. These modules would end up on Tre FCEVs as well as the Nikola Two sleeper truck, which is designed for cross-country freight transport.

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