Date: July 29, 2021
Source: US DOJ
Less than a year after Republic Services "discontinued" its order with Nikola for 2,500 electric collection vehicles, Nikola's founder, Trevor Milton, was indicted on securities-fraud charges for allegedly lying to investors about its business making commercial trucks powered by alternative fuel.
Milton resigned last September amid an SEC investigation stemming from allegations of fraud by short-seller Hindenburg Research. Milton and the company disputed many of the claims but admitted to staging a video showing a truck that appeared to be functional that in fact was not. According to the indictment, Milton also lied about reservations for future delivery of the semi-trucks, saying they were binding orders that represented billions in revenue while, most of the orders could be canceled at any time.
Nikola has not been charged. The company said that Mr. Milton has not been involved in its operations or communications since his resignation. "Nikola has cooperated with the government throughout the course of its inquiry," a company statement said. General Motors Co. had also briefly struck a deal with Nikola to help it develop and manufacture new models in exchange for an 11% stake in Nikola but later pulled out of that deal.
The Phoenix-based startup went public in 2020 through reverse-merger deal with a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.
The indictment can be read here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/former-nikola-corporation-ceo-trevor-milton-charged-securities-fraud-scheme.
See also: "Republic Bows Out on Deal with Nikola for Electric Refuse Trucks," (https://www.wasteinfo.com/news/wbj20210105B.htm).