Elon Musk has warned people to stay vigilant and “revolt against the propaganda of the fossil fuel industry which is unrelenting and enormous”.
Now Tesla is having its own fight against the oil industry and it’s not one to promote electric vehicles. The company is suing an oil pipeline services firm and its Chief Financial Officer who Tesla says tried to impersonate Musk to gain confidential information about Tesla’s deliveries during the current quarter.
Ironically, the company is called ‘Quest Integrity‘. On its website, it lists clients like BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil, among others. The executive in question accused of having impersonated Musk is Todd Katz, who is listed as Chief Financial Officer on the company’s website.
In his bio, he claims to have worked at “several leading Wall Street investment banks, including Morgan Stanley, and most recently, as a Director at Merrill Lynch.”
In the suit filed today in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County against Todd Katz, the Quest Integrity Group, and 10 John Does, Tesla and Hueston Hennigan LLP, the firm representing the automaker, claim that Katz registered the email address “email@example.com” and sent the following email to Jason Wheeler, Tesla’s CFO, on August 3:
“why you so cautious w Q3/4 gm guidance on call? also what are your thoughts on disclosing M3 res#? Pros/cons from ir pov? what is your best guess as to where we actually come in on q3/4 deliverables. honest guess? no bs. thx 4 hard work prepping 4 today
Wheeler did not disclose any information and instead, Tesla launched its own investigation to find out who is behind the email. In the suit, which Forbes obtained first and you can read in full below, Tesla didn’t divulge how they managed to connect the email to Katz, Quest Integrity, and the 10 “Doe Defendants”, but they claim that “on information and belief”, they can say that Katz created the “firstname.lastname@example.org” account and that 10 other individuals were involved.
Furthermore, Tesla says that Katz “intended to use that information in furtherance of his employer’s and its clients’ business and financial interest.” Someone with Tesla’s delivery numbers ahead of the disclosure at the end of a quarter would have an important advantage on the public market since Tesla deliveries can easily by converted to revenue. It’s indeed valuable information.
A few weeks after the incident, Musk sent an email to employees and asked to push to deliver as many vehicles as possible by the end of the quarter. He added that Tesla was on the “razor edge” of turning a profit and that he would like to ‘throw a pie in the face of all naysayers on Wall Street’.
Tesla seeks to be reimbursed for the cost of its investigation into “Katz’s criminal misconduct”.
Here’s the suit: