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Earlier this week, Tesla shocked many by announcing a $1.5 billion Bitcoin investment in a 10-K filing with the SEC. Along with the announcement, Tesla said it plans to begin accepting Bitcoin for purchases of its electric cars and other products.
The 10-K filing shows that Tesla made the investment sometime in January 2021, and stated that it “may acquire and hold digital assets from time to time or long-term.” According to Davidson, the SEC could be looking into Tesla’s purchase of Bitcoin, along with Musk’s support of the cryptocurrency, as the CEO’s actions have influenced several price spikes in the past. The question could come down to when, exactly, Tesla purchased Bitcoin.
“It would not be surprising—given the focus on the chief executive’s tweets, bitcoin pricing, and recent dramatic market moves—for the SEC to ask questions about the facts and circumstances here,” Davidson said to the Telegraph newspaper.
Another figure, Vitor Constâncio, former Vice President of the European Central Bank, said that the timing is really what makes the SEC’s probe understandable to him. Because Tesla didn’t disclose the purchase when it happened, he says that Musk’s tweets supporting Bitcoin appreciated their investment.
“It was not disclosed when Tesla had made this investment,” Constâncio said to Forbes. “This was followed by many statements that he supported bitcoin. Bitcoin kept going up and the Tesla investment has appreciated.”
Musk does have an influence on the markets. It has been proven on numerous occasions, the most relevant being Signal Advance Inc. stock, which shot up over 11,700% after investors misunderstood a Musk tweet. The other being Dogecoin, another cryptocurrency that has spiked at times Musk has mentioned it on Twitter.
It seems unlikely that Musk can be blamed for his influence. He is a unique CEO who gives constant product updates and talks with Tesla owners on a nearly daily basis and has indicated in the past that investments should line up with personal beliefs. Musk’s interest in Bitcoin may have lead to Tesla’s purchase of the crypto, but it also holds several advantages as the company expands aggressively into foreign markets.
The SEC and Musk have a past as well, which seems to influence a microscope-like focus from the government agency on the Tesla CEO. In 2018, the SEC settled fraud charges with Musk, who paid $40 million in penalties and required his voluntary removal as Tesla’s Chairman. The lawsuit began after Musk tweeted that he could be taking Tesla private at $420, “funding secured.”
Musk stated later on that he “does not respect the SEC.”
No official investigation has been launched by the SEC, nor is it confirmed whether the government agency is looking into Musk or Tesla’s purchase of Bitcoin.