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Former Tesla security employee alleges theft, spying, drug dealing at company

CNBC logo CNBC 8/16/2018 Lora Kolodny

A former Tesla security employee named Karl Hansen has filed a whistleblower complaint with the SEC, accusing the vehicle maker of theft and spying on workers. He's the second ex-Tesla employee to come forward.

Hansen, like former Tesla technician Martin Tripp, is represented in his complaint by Stuart Meissner. In a statement through Meissner on Thursday, Hansen accused Tesla of:

  • Failing to disclose to shareholders that $37 million worth of copper and other raw materials were stolen from the Gigafactory in the first half of 2018.
  • Spying on employees, specifically by wiretapping and hacking their cellphones and computers.
  • Failing to disclose to local law enforcement and to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency that Gigafactory employees may have been in drug trafficking.
  • Retaliating against Hansen for raising such issues, internally, by firing him in mid-July.

Meissner said in an email to CNBC that his client authorized the release of his name and details about the case.

"I do not want other whistleblowers to think that we distribute their identity or even discuss their matters publicly at all, as we do not, unless they request such," Meissner said.

The accusations come at a time of intense scrutiny for Tesla and its CEO and chairman, Elon Musk. Musk recently drew fire for tweeting that he was looking to take the company private at $420 a share and had "funding secured."

Tesla shares fell Thursday and are now trading below their price at the time of Musk's tweet.

CNBC reached out to Tesla and the Storey County sheriff's office for more information. Neither has responded.

Ongoing investigations at Tesla do not indicate a finding of wrongdoing but could shake investors' confidence. Meissner has a long history working with the SEC and whistleblowers. He previously represented a former Monsanto executive who alleged accounting fraud, leading to a settlement of $80 million between the SEC and Monsanto in 2016.


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