Nikola wants embattled founder Trevor Milton to pay proposed $125M SEC settlement

Nikola wants Milton to pay up.


Electric semi truck startup Nikola revealed in its third-quarter earnings report Thursday that it’s nearing a settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission over its ongoing investigation. The firm plans to seek reimbursement from embattled founder and former chairman Trevor Milton.

The startup said it has $125 million set aside to potentially pay for civil penalties the SEC may impose. The SEC opened the investigation into the company just over a year ago, following a bombshell financial investigation from short-seller Hindenburg Research. Milton resigned from the company in September 2020 and a grand jury indicted the former executive this past summer. Charges include two counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud for allegedly lying about “nearly all aspects of the business” in order to secure investment.

“Final resolution of this matter is subject to documentation satisfactory to all the parties, and completion of any settlement is contingent on a vote of the Commissioners of the SEC,” Nikola said in an update.

However, Nikola won’t simply cough up the cash. The firm said it intends to pursue Milton for reimbursement for all costs and damages associated with every last government and regulatory investigation. At one point, Milton’s fortunes included $1 billion earned from Nikola stock.

The company continues to press forward with its Tre electric semi’s validation process and said it’s built seven Alpha-series Tre semis with a fuel-cell powertrain.

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