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Quest Integrity may soon have to pursue a name change if Tesla’s accusations of espionage-like behavior turn out to be true.
Tesla filed a lawsuit against an executive from the pipeline services company on Wednesday with claims that he impersonated CEO Elon Musk in an email to obtain confidential company data after the company’s most recent earnings announcement.
Court papers identified Todd Katz, the chief financial advisor for Seattle-based Quest Integrity, as the accused. Katz’s firm provides services to several oil and gas majors, including BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil. Forbes reports that the suit seeks an unspecified amount of financial compensation covering legal fees and investigation costs to make up for the violation.
Early last month, Jason Wheeler, Tesla’s Chief Financial Officer, received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org - an address similar to one Musk had used in the past. The message asked for sealed financial forecasts and additional figures related to car pre-order numbers that had not been discussed in an earnings call earlier that same day.
Here’s the rest of the message, according to Forbes:
“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 fall for the email’s attempt to procure the privileged information, and Tesla launched an internal investigation regarding the matter.
The company did not reveal how it determined that the email came from Katz, but it insisted that he created the email account using Musk’s personal information.
“The point of this action is that this was perceived as an effort to gain inside information, non-public information,” John Hueston, a Los Angeles-based attorney representing Tesla, said. “Although it was caught here, Tesla is worried about this happening in some other form. This could have resulted in highly valuable information being improperly disclosed.”
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…