Nikola is paying $8.1 million in legal fees for ousted chairman Milton

CEO and founding father of U.S. Nikola, Trevor Milton speaks throughout presentation of its new full-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell battery vans in partnership with CNH Industrial, at an occasion in Turin, Italy December 2, 2019.

Massimo Pinca | Reuters

Embattled electrical truck start-up Nikola is paying $8.1 million in legal professional fees for ousted founder and chairman Trevor Milton, who left the company in September following fraud claims by a short-seller that prompted federal inquiries.

That helped drive the company’s legal bills final year to $27.5 million. Most of that, $24.7 million, was spent responding to regulatory probes and different litigation associated to the claims by Hindenburg Research, Nikola stated in its annual submitting Thursday to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

About $1.5 million of Milton’s legal fees had been paid in 2020, in accordance with the company. The start-up lost $384.3 million final year, together with $147.1 million in the fourth quarter, it stated Thursday. It’s loss on an adjusted pretax foundation was $200.5 million in 2020.

As a part of its earnings, Nikola additionally lowered supply expectations of its first product known as the Tre semitruck from 600 this year to between 50 and 100 on account of provider points. Shares of the company had been level-to-down throughout afterhours buying and selling after closing Thursday at $19.72 a share, down 6.8% for the day.

“The pandemic has caused significant supply chain disruptions,” Nikola CEO Mark Russell stated throughout an earnings name, particularly citing a battery cell scarcity to energy its automobiles.

A Nikola spokeswoman declined to touch upon whether or not the company will try to recoup any of Milton’s legal fees. In its submitting, Nikola stated the fees had been a part of his indemnification settlement with company. It expects to incur extra legal prices this year associated to the Hindenburg report, which has led to inquiries by the SEC and Department of Justice.

“We have incurred significant expenses as a result of the regulatory and legal matters relating to the Hindenburg article,” Nikola stated in the submitting. “The total cost associated with these matters will depend on many factors, including the duration of these matters and any related finding.”

Hindenburg accused Milton of making false statements about Nikola’s expertise in order to develop the company and associate with auto corporations. The report, titled “Nikola: How to Parlay An Ocean of Lies Into a Partnership With the Largest Auto OEM in America,” was launched two days after the company introduced a take care of General Motors that despatched each corporations’ shares hovering in September. It characterised Nikola as an “intricate fraud built on dozens of lies” by Milton.

Nikola has denied and disputed most of the accusations, nonetheless the company confirmed one in every of Hindenburg’s largest claims — that it staged a video displaying a truck that seemed to be practical however wasn’t.

An inside investigation by Kirkland & Ellis LLP has been “substantially completed” concerning statements by Milton and the company throughout that point, in accordance with the submitting. No conclusion has been made by the Chicago-based regulation agency as as to whether any statements that will have been inaccurate when made violated any statute, in accordance with the company.

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