Short-sellers band together to defend Tesla critic

Supporters raise €80,000 for man hit with restraining order over alleged trespassing

Short-sellers rallied to the defence of one of Tesla’s critics after the electric carmaker obtained a restraining order against the California-based man over allegations he was trespassing on its property and harassing employees.

Short-sellers rallied to the defence of one of Tesla’s critics after the electric carmaker obtained a restraining order against the California-based man over allegations he was trespassing on its property and harassing employees.

 

Short-sellers rallied to the defence of one of Tesla’s critics after the electric carmaker obtained a restraining order against the California-based man over allegations he was trespassing on its property and harassing employees.

Supporters of the man, who tweets under the handle @skabooshka and has frequently said Elon Musk, the electric carmaker’s chief executive, should go to prison for fraud, raised almost $90,000 (€80,000 ) in two days to pay his legal bills.

The carmaker, which is due to report quarterly results on Wednesday, obtained the court order on Friday against a 32-year-old resident of Fremont, California, named Randeep Hothi, according to court records.

Mr Hothi, who describes himself on Twitter as “investigating/reporting on corporate fraud. Currently focusing on corporate wrongdoing and Tesla,” frequently uses the hashtag $TSLAQ, which is favoured by those who believe the company will fail.

Support

Marc Cohodes, a prominent short-seller who donated to support Mr Hothi, said that “what Elon Musk and Tesla are doing to this kid – and he is a kid – is absolutely criminal”.

“It’s part of the worldwide retaliation against speaking truth to power that’s going on right now,” he added. Mr Musk “is all for free speech until it’s against him”.

Tesla has been a frequent target for short-sellers and sceptics who view Mr Musk’s sometimes-grandiose ideas and promises of new products and projects at odds with the company’s performance, delayed delivery of cars, safety record and a management and board exodus. The stock has been one of the most heavily-shorted in recent years.

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019