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Nikola founder Trevor Milton indicted on three counts of fraud

A federal grand jury charged the billionaire and former face of Nikola with two counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud.

Trevor Milton is expected to appear in court today.

Nikola

A federal grand jury indicted Nikola founder and former executive chairman Trevor Milton on three counts of fraud, the company confirmed Thursday. The grand jury charged Milton with two counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud for allegedly lying about "nearly all aspects of the business." CNBC first reported the news on Thursday after the indictment was unsealed.

"Today's government actions are against Mr. Milton individually, and not against the company," a Nikola spokesperson said in a statement. "Nikola has cooperated with the government throughout the course of its inquiry. We remain committed to our previously announced milestones and timelines and are focused on delivering Nikola Tre battery-electric trucks later this year from the company's manufacturing facilities." 

The US Attorney's Office in Manhattan did not immediately return Roadshow's request for comment, but CNBC reported that Milton surrendered to authorities and will appear in court later today.

Milton resigned as executive chairman of Nikola in September following an in-depth financial investigation report from Hindenburg Research. Hindenburg confirmed it took a short position on the company's stock when revealing numerous allegations against the company, including a number of falsehoods Milton presented. Milton promised technologies that would bring hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered semi trucks to market and revealed plans for a hydrogen-electric pickup truck called the Badger, among other things.

According to the report, Milton held $8.5 billion worth of company stock at the height of its value. The grand jury said the former executive must return anything "traceable to the commission of said offenses," which likely includes over $1 billion earned through Nikola stock.

A spokesperson for Milton's legal team said in a statement, "Trevor Milton is innocent; this is a new low in the government's efforts to criminalize lawful business conduct. [He is] is an entrepreneur who had a long-term vision of helping the environment by cutting carbon emissions in the trucking industry. Mr. Milton has been wrongfully accused following a faulty and incomplete investigation in which the government ignored critical evidence and failed to interview important witnesses."

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