Trevor Milton, founder and former CEO of electric and hydrogen vehicle company Nikola, has been found guilty on three counts of fraud after a jury decided that he lied to investors to increase the startup’s stock. An indictment filed in 2021 accused the company of staging a video that purportedly showed its Nikola One semi driving under its own power, when it was actually rolling down a hill.
Milton was also accused of misleading investors about where the batteries in its vehicles came from, the development process for its pickup truck, and about how far the vehicles were in development, according to Reuters. He stepped down from his role as CEO in September 2020.
Milton’s charges include one count of securities fraud, and two counts of wire fraud. He was acquitted on one count of securities fraud. His attorney told Reuters that he’ll appeal the verdict.
The case wasn’t against the company, which is still in business (and which recently recalled nearly 100 vehicles), but Milton himself, who allegedly ignored Nikola’s chief engineer’s advice to postpone a launch event, as the truck wouldn’t be ready.