The founder of electric truck firm Nikola has stepped down from his position as executive chairman, following a spate of fraud claims against the company by short-seller Hindenburg Research.
“The focus should be on the company and its world-changing mission, not me. So I made the difficult decision to approach the board and volunteer to step aside as executive chairman,” said Trevor Milton, who started the Tesla rival in 2014.
Hindenburg published a report last month alleging Nikola had misled investors, including a claim that a video showing one of its trucks driving itself was actually just the vehicle rolling down a hill.
It also said it had gathered enough evidence to show that Milton made false statements about possessing proprietary technology, in a bid to form partnerships with large carmakers who would then provide the tech.
A week before Hindenburg’s report, General Motors took an 11 per cent stake in the business at a price tag of about $2bn.
Nikola’s shares have fallen drastically since the report. It has refuted Hindenburg’s claims, and threatened to launch legal action.
In pre-market trading today, its share price has slipped more than 20 per cent. It closed last week at $34.19 per share.
The company is said to have been relying on a partnership with other manufacturers to create batteries for its trucks, despite unveiling its own battery technology earlier this year.
Reports last week suggested the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Justice Department are both probing Nikola as a result of Hindenburg’s claims.
Nikola said it has briefed the SEC on its concerns.