While the Justice Department hasn't launched an investigation, it has started inquiring about the claims, according to the report.
The US Department of Justice has reportedly started digging into the accusations brought against hydrogen-electric truck startup Nikola. The Financial Times reported Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the discussions, the DOJ began inquiries into the accusations, which include overpromising prototype vehicle capabilities, inflating employee experience and a lack of actual proprietary technology.
According to the report, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York is specifically interested in the information financial research firm (and short seller) Hindenburg published last week. Above all the accusations, Hindenburg called the startup company an "intricate fraud." The US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York nor Nikola did not immediately return Roadshow's request for comment on the report.
Since the report's publishing, Nikola has released a multibullet rebuttal to the accusations, though chiefly, it admitted its One hydrogen-electric semi truck never moved under its own power. Despite founder Trevor Milton telling media the truck was "not a pusher," the company carefully danced around the complaint it staged a marketing video with camera tricks and let the semi roll downhill without any powertrain supplying momentum. Nikola abandoned development of the semi years ago and refunded all deposits.
News of the DOJ's interest in the allegations follows confirmation the Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation into the report's allegations and Nikola's claims Hindenburg worked to manipulate its stock price with what Milton himself called a "hit job."