Nikola Agrees $125 Million Settlement For Defrauding Investors

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Meanwhile, founder Trevor Milton still faces charges.

Nikola's legal troubles finally appear to be over. The EV automaker has just announced an agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle civil charges for misleading investors about its vehicles, technology, and commercial opportunities. All told, Nikola is paying $125 million to the feds, thereby resolving and concluding all government investigations into the company. Nikola will pay the fine in five installments over a two-year time period.

The first payment will be made by the end of this month. Nikola knew this financial penalty was coming, hence its announcement last month that it had taken a $125 million reserve in its third business quarter earnings to help it cover the settlement.

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"We are pleased to bring this chapter to a close as the company has now resolved all government investigations," the company said in a statement. "We will continue to execute on our strategy and vision to deliver on our business plan, including delivering trucks to customers, expanding our manufacturing facilities and our sales and service network, and building out our hydrogen infrastructure ecosystem including hydrogen production, distribution and dispensing stations."

As part of the deal, Nikola did not admit to the SEC's findings and it'll continue to cooperate with the agency's ongoing investigation against former CEO and founder Trevor Milton. Milton, who has been charged with multiple fraud counts, is also personally contributing an undisclosed amount towards his former company's settlement fine.

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Nikola is now focused solely on zero-emissions transportation, mainly semi-trucks, and energy infrastructure solutions. The Nikola Badger, a pickup truck with either a fully battery-electric powertrain or a hydrogen fuel cell setup, is officially dead. Early depositors are supposedly receiving full refunds.

Milton's downfall began in September 2020 when Hindenburg Research, a short-seller firm, released a damning report accusing the company of financial fraud. This happened just days after Nikola signed a major deal with GM that included Badger production. That's all in the past now but at least Nikola, the company, has found a path forward.


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