Nikola Corp. founder Trevor Milton broke his own company’s social media rules, sharing potentially nonpublic information on platforms like Twitter and Instagram, a jury in Milton’s criminal fraud trial was told.
Milton, accused of lying to investors about the company’s progress, flouted policies on the treatment of confidential information including financial and product matters, Nikola Social Media and Digital Marketing Manager Stephanie Amzallag testified Wednesday in Milton’s trial on securities and wire fraud charges.
Amzallag told the jury she tried to follow what Milton was posting to his personal accounts as well, because he would also share information that wasn’t known within the company, as she worked to keep up with the voluble founder. She said she didn’t have the technical background to verify the accuracy of some of his statements.
Social media use was a mainstay of Milton’s tenure at the company, from which he resigned in September 2020 after an excoriating short seller’s report that month.
Before stepping down, he issued a long series of Instagram posts berating the author and other critics of the company, and in one video appealed to investors to exercise their warrants. He was often combative on Twitter with those who questioned his statements and the company’s potential, before deleting his social media accounts that Sept. 23.
Milton is accused of duping investors by making inoperable products look fully functional and of lying about the company’s technology and partnerships. The defense argues he was just following the company’s marketing plan and never said anything he didn’t believe to be true.