Nikola Corp. founder and CEO Trevor Milton is stepping down as an electric truck, with immediate effect, after allegations of a short sale that he and the company had made based on false statements to investors.
“I asked the Board of Directors to allow me to step down as Chief Executive Officer and member of Nikola’s Board of Directors. The focus must be on the company and its mission to change the world, not me. I intend to defend myself against false accusations made against me by external defamators, ”wrote Milton in a statement posted on his Twitter account at 2:21 am (Eastern Time) Monday morning.
Milton holds 91.64 million shares, or 24.18% of the company’s capital, according to data from Bloomberg.
According to the agreement between Nikola and Milton, these 91.64 million shares are held by M&M Residual LLC and include 6,005,139 shares “subject to options held by certain employees under a Stock Option Plan for the Founders.”
Milton agreed to “cooperate fully” with Nikola in investigating, defending or processing any claim. Nikola will also pay or reimburse Milton for all pocket expenses incurred during this process, the document shows.
As for social media, Milton agreed to “immediately change” his employment status on social media platforms, including LinkedIn, so that he “is no longer identified as being in any position” with Nikola or serving on his board. Before posting about the company or its employees, Milton agreed to consult with his lawyer and Nikola’s legal director.
In the company’s 10-Q report released on August 4, Nikola said he was “highly dependent” on Milton’s services.
“We are highly dependent on the services of Trevor R. Milton, our CEO and largest shareholder. Mr. Milton is the source of many, if not most, of the ideas and execution that drive Nikola. If Mr. Milton interrupted his service for us due to death, disability or any other reason, we would be at a significant disadvantage, ”said the 10-Q report.
Stephen Girsky, a former vice president of General Motors and a member of Nikola’s board, was named president of Nikola, with immediate effect.