The Securities and Exchange Commission has said it is seeking a court order that would compel Elon Musk to give evidence as part of an investigation into his purchase of Twitter, now called X.
The SEC said in a filing in a San Francisco federal court that Mr Musk had failed to appear to give evidence on September 15 despite an investigative subpoena served by the commission and him raising no objections at the time it was served.
But “two days before his scheduled testimony, Musk abruptly notified the SEC staff that he would not appear”, said the agency’s filing.
“Musk attempted to justify his refusal to comply with the subpoena by raising, for the first time, several spurious objections, including an objection to San Francisco as an appropriate testimony location.”
His lawyer, Alex Spiro, said the “SEC has already taken Mr Musk’s testimony multiple times in this misguided investigation — enough is enough”.
The SEC said it has been conducting a fact-finding investigation involving the period before Mr Musk’s takeover last year when Twitter was still a publicly traded company.
The agency said it has not concluded that anyone violated federal securities laws.
The Tesla chief executive closed his 44 billion dollar agreement to buy Twitter and take it private in October 2022, after a months-long legal battle with the social media company’s previous leadership.
After he signed a deal to acquire Twitter in April 2022, he tried to back out of it, leading the company to sue him to force him to go through with the acquisition.
The SEC said that starting in April 2022, it authorised an investigation into whether any securities laws were broken in connection with his purchases of Twitter stock and his statements and SEC filings related to the company.
A lawsuit filed that month by Twitter shareholders in New York alleged that the billionaire illegally delayed disclosing his stake in the social media company so he could buy more shares at lower prices.
That complaint centred around whether Mr Musk violated a regulatory deadline to reveal he had accumulated a stake of at least 5%. The lawsuit alleged that his actions damaged less wealthy investors who sold shares in the company in the nearly two weeks before he acknowledged holding a major stake.
The SEC’s court filings do not detail the specifics of what its investigation is about, but say the agency is responsible for protecting investors and has broad authority to conduct investigations, and that Mr Musk has no basis to refuse to comply.
The SEC said Mr Musk objected to giving evidence in San Francisco because he does not live there, so the commission said it offered to do it at any of its 11 offices, including one in Fort Worth, Texas, closer to his home.
The SEC said Mr Musk’s lawyers responded by saying he would not appear for testimony in any location.