Ex-Tesla worker escalates battle by blowing whistle to SEC

Ex-Tesla worker escalates battle by blowing whistle to SEC

A former Tesla employee portrayed by CEO Elon Musk as a saboteur has filed a whistle-blower tip to the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging the company made misstatements and omissions to investors.
Dana Hull and Josh Eidelson
Automotive News | July 11, 2018 – 4:30 pm EST
A former Tesla Inc. employee portrayed by CEO Elon Musk as a saboteur has filed a whistle-blower tip to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleging the company made misstatements and omissions to investors.
Martin Tripp, a process engineering technician at the company’s massive battery factory in Nevada, who left Tesla on June 19 and was sued by the company shortly thereafter, accused the electric-car maker of inflating weekly Model 3 production figures by as much as 44 percent. In a tip filed to the SEC on Friday, he also said the company installed unsafe batteries in vehicles that may be at higher risk of catching fire later.
Tripp’s allegations were summarized in a statement from Meissner Associates, a New York-based law firm that represented a former Monsanto Co. employee who was awarded $22 million in August 2016 for tipping off the SEC to improper accounting. Stuart Meissner, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan and assistant New York state attorney general, said he believes Tesla’s lawsuit against Tripp was part of a media campaign to defame and silence him.
Tripp has struggled to hire a lawyer to defend him against Tesla’s lawsuit and created a GoFundMe page. He is seeking $500,000 in financial support and has raised about $14,000, according to the website.
Meissner said he won’t be representing Tripp in the federal lawsuit in Nevada. Tripp “is in the process of interviewing attorneys,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday. “It’s not easy to find counsel. There’s almost a cult of Tesla.”
Tesla representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The company accused Tripp in a complaint last month of writing a computer program to access proprietary information, sending material to three unidentified entities and attempting to cover his electronic tracks after he was denied a promotion. Musk, 47, wrote an email to employees alluding to the alleged sabotage effort days before Tesla filed its complaint.
Musk and Tripp also exchanged emails directly, the Washington Post and others reported, with the two men calling each other a “horrible human being.”
Tripp told the SEC that Tesla had installed batteries with holes punctured in them, placed battery cells too close to one another and didn’t properly affix them. Judy Burns, an SEC spokeswoman, declined to comment.
Tripp also alleged that the company systematically reused parts that had been deemed scrap or waste in vehicles. The National Transportation Safety Board is looking into the flammability of lithium ion battery packs for EVs, including several fires involving crashed Teslas.
Whistle-blowers are eligible for payouts if they voluntarily provide the SEC with unique information that leads to a successful enforcement action. Compensation can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected in any case that leads to a penalty of at least $1 million. The SEC said it has awarded more than $266 million since the inception of its whistle-blower program in 2011.

Seniority Lists
Bargaining Committee

Chairman
Mike Herron
President
Tim Stannard
Zone at Large – 1st
Danny Taylor
Zone at Large – 2nd
Mark Wilkerson
Committeepersons
Joe McClure
Chad Poynor
Steve Roberts
Derek Lewis
Bill Cundiff
Kirk Zebbs
Don Numinen
Jay Minella
Danny Bragg
Chris Hill
Rashad Thomas
Keith Oswald
Chris Brown

1853 Officers

President
Tim Stannard
Chairman
Mike Herron
Vice President
Darrell DeJean
Financial Secretary
Mark Wunderlin
Recording Secretary
Peggy Mullins
Trustee (3)
Jay Lowe
Dave Clements
Dave Spare
Sgt. at Arms
David C Spare
Guide
Ashley Holloway
E-Board at Large (2)
David Ryder
Steve Roberts

GM Unit Chair
Mike Herron
Leadec Unit Chair
Larry Poole
Ryder Unit Chair
Patrick Linck
AFV Unit Chair
Katherine McGaw
Retiree Chair
Mike Martinez