NewsNikola's founder Trevor Milton sentenced to four years. From 'Tesla of trucks' dream to deceiving investors

Nikola's founder Trevor Milton sentenced to four years. From 'Tesla of trucks' dream to deceiving investors

Nikola's creator Trevor Milton has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Nikola's creator Trevor Milton has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Images source: © Getty Images | Yuki Iwamura

8:23 AM EST, December 19, 2023

Reported on Monday, December 18, by CNN, Milton was handed a four-year prison sentence for deceiving investors about the hydrogen and electric technologies in Nikola's products.

Nikola's founder, Trevor Milton, receives prison sentence

The American service underlined that this punishment is significantly lenient compared to the 11-year sentence suggested by the prosecutors. Milton could have faced up to 60 years in prison if subjected to the maximum sentence. This ruling is the second court decision regarding this case—the initial one being in October 2022.

Even then, the media speculated that Milton might serve less time in prison than the prosecutors had expected.

The downfall of Trevor Milton: A billionaire promised the "Tesla of trucks"

The sentencing of Trevor Milton concludes the scandalous saga of Nikola, a company once dubbed the "Tesla of trucks". Notably, Nikola's name is a playful nod to Elon Musk’s business, as the legendary inventor Tesla's first name was Nikola. Milton harbored dreams of gracing the list of the world's 100 richest individuals.

There was a fleeting moment when Milton appeared to be nearing this goal. Following its public listing, Nikola basked in a peak valuation of $27 billion—greater than Ford's market value at that time.

But signs of trouble emerged even before Nikola went public. Bloomberg exposed that Nikola's prototype truck, displayed publicly, fell short on several fronts—it lacked an engine and a hydrogen fuel unit, both critical components that were supposed to set it apart from the competition. Despite these revelations, Milton maintained that the prototype was fully operational and that the engine had been omitted from the show "for safety reasons".

The situation deteriorated further when reports surfaced suggesting the company had been deceiving its investors prior to going public. The U.S. SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) initiated an investigation into the allegations, resulting in Milton's resignation as the CEO.

In July 2021, prosecutors in New York accused Milton of making "false and misleading statements" to investors and embellishing details about his business to make his company more appealing to investors.

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