A Tesla employee who was fired from a Nevada battery factory filed a whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, accusing the electric-car maker of spying on its workers and turning a blind eye to drug trafficking by the Mexican cartel.
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Karl Hansen, a former member of Tesla’s internal security department at the Gigafactory, made the allegations after he was fired by the company in July. The formal complaint was filed with the SEC on Aug. 9 by Meissner Associates, the law firm representing Hansen.
The SEC declined to comment.
In an emailed statement, Tesla said that Hansen’s allegations were taken “very seriously when he brought them forward. Some of his claims were outright false. Others could not be corroborated, so we suggested additional investigative steps to try and validate the information he had received second-hand from a single anonymous source.”
Tesla said that despite trying a number of times to discuss the allegations further with Hansen, he rejected each of these attempts, and has refused to speak with the company. Hansen’s attorney, Stuart Meissner, said the former Tesla employee had already been fired by the company and was represented by legal counsel.
Hansen alleges that in the beginning of June, he was provided with documents from the head of Tesla’s international investigation department -- his supervisor -- outlining that Drug Enforcement Administration task members assigned to the county where the factory was located had validated information that a member of a Mexican cartel was trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine, including two sales conducted in May that occurred in the Sparks, Nevada factory.
When he inquired with the company about video footage, which he said is supposed to be retained by Tesla for 30 days, Hansen said he was told there was no existing material because the servers were “overloaded with cameras.”
“I think there’s a consistent reactionary mode that permeates down through the organization, and there’s no operational commitments that we’re seeing,” Hansen said during an interview on Wednesday with FOX Business’ Stuart Varney.
In a statement, Hansen claims Tesla also told him not to disclose or pursue other sensitive matters, including the alleged theft of more than $37 million in copper and other raw materials from the company’s factory between January and June.
Hansen said he has not heard back from the SEC.
Meissner is also representing another former Tesla employee, Martin Tripp, who alleged he was fired in July for publicly raising concerns over the conditions at one of the company’s gigafactories.
Meissner claimed the company filed a lawsuit against Tripp and called the sheriff saying he was on his way to shoot up the factory -- which, he alleged, is “completely false” and could amount to a “false report of a ‘terrorist incident.’”
“Overall, the allegations that are raised between the two raise the prospect of violations of federal wiretapping laws, the false report of a terrorist incident and obstruction of justice, all of which are very serious crimes which, if they emanated from the top, [are] much more serious than any other SEC investigation,” Meissner added.
The whistleblowers are just one of a slew of problems that seem to be piling up for Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk, who is also under investigation by the SEC for tweeting in early August that he was considering taking the company private and had already secured the funding. (On Friday, Musk released a statement saying the company would remain publicly traded).
“I think Mr. Musk, from my perspective, has a lot of assets,” Meissner said. “I think he is a great visionary, but at the same time, he’s very erratic and knee-jerk. And when you have that as the head of a public company, and what appears to be willing to do anything and everything, that is pretty scary.”