In a filing late Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nikola acknowledged seven “inaccurate” statements that Milton, who left the company in September, allegedly made between July 2016 and July 2020 about the company’s progress developing electric and hydrogen-powered trucks. It also listed two other statements attributed to the company during that time when Milton was executive chairman.
The statements listed in the filing had all been mentioned among allegations made in a September short seller report by Hindenburg Research. Nikola acknowledged, in the filing, that the statements listed “were inaccurate in whole or in part, when made.”
Milton and other Nikola executives have already received federal grand jury and SEC subpoenas. Nikola also faces multiple civil suits from shareholders.
Nikola and Milton in the past had denied Hindenburg’s allegations. And in Thursday’s filing the company said that some of the allegations made by Hindbenburg had been found not to be accurate by an independent investigation commissioned by the company.
Milton remains the major shareholder in the company, with more than 20% of its stocks, despite his departure and the federal investigation into his alleged false statements.
Attorneys representing Milton in some of the legal actions surrounding the company did not respond to a request for comment about the filing.
The statements listed as inaccurate include a 2016 claim that Nikola had already engineered a zero-emissions truck and a 2020 statement that it had five trucks ready to come off the assembly line. Milton also said in late 2019 and again in mid-2020 that Nikola “can produce” over 1,000 kilograms of hydrogen at the company’s demonstration stations and that it had gotten the cost of hydrogen “down below” $3 a kilogram.
Nikola’s filing also disclosed that its costs associated with regulatory and legal matters ballooned to $24.7 million in 2020, with $19.5 million of that coming in the fourth quarter. The company has also set aside $8.1 million toward Milton’s legal fees under its contract with him, even though he left the company on September 20, the day after he was served with the federal subpoena. It has paid $1.5 million of that so far.