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Head Of Saudi Wealth Fund Will Not Testify In Defense Of Elon Musk

The governor of the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s $620-billion sovereign wealth fund, will not testify in defense of Elon Musk in an upcoming trial brought by Tesla investors alleging Musk defrauded them with the 2018 tweet that funding for taking the EV maker private is “secured.”

Last week, lawyers for Musk tried to subpoena Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), to force him to testify in the trial slated to begin in San Francisco on January 17.  

Investors in Tesla are suing Musk for misleading and defrauding them after tweeting in August 2018, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” The tweet sparked wide speculation and wild swings in the share price of Tesla, while a deal never happened, although Musk has claimed he had a handshake deal with the Saudis to help fund taking Tesla private.  

Now lawyers for Al-Rumayyan and other PIF officials said that the ‘subpoena’ from the Musk lawyers doesn’t have any bearing and in no way obliges the Saudis to be in court to testify in the trial.  

Subpoenas “need not be complied with,” according to a filing by the lawyers for the fund, cited by Bloomberg. Those documents are “legally deficient,” they say, and they are not in the jurisdiction of the San Francisco court.

The request for testifying was voluntary, lawyers for the Saudi sovereign wealth fund said. 

“In other words, even defendants describe the subpoenas as having no force or effect,” they wrote in the filing.

Text exchanges between Musk and Al-Rumayyan, revealed in court filings last year, showed that Tesla’s chief executive believed he had the “funding secured” to take the company private. But Al-Rumayyan told Musk that the Saudi fund couldn’t commit to an investment without sufficient information and that the fund and managers had been waiting for more details.

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By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com

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