The founder of Nikola Corporation, Trevor Milton, has been sentenced to four years in prison for making false statements about the capabilities of the company’s electric and hydrogen trucks.
The sentencing comes after a three-year trial initiated in September 2020, during which Milton was accused of misleading investors about the progress of Nikola’s vehicle development.
According to reports, Milton exaggerated the capabilities of the Nikola One prototype Hydrogen truck, falsely presenting it as a fully functional vehicle to potential investors despite missing parts that prevented it from driving. The accusations led to investigations by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice, resulting in Milton’s indictment by a federal grand jury in July 2021.
Milton was convicted in October 2022 on one count of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud. The sentencing, delayed until this week, includes four years of imprisonment. Nikola Corporation, founded in 2014, has faced scrutiny for delivering fewer than 300 electric trucks and producing no hydrogen-powered vehicles since unveiling its first concept in 2016.
General Motors had initially acquired an 11% stake in Nikola less than a month before the accusations surfaced, but later sold its shares after just two months. Nikola’s plans for a pick-up model named the Badger were cancelled in 2020 following GM’s withdrawal of financial support.
Milton is currently free on bail as he appeals the conviction. The case highlights the challenges and consequences associated with fraudulent practices in the electric and hydrogen vehicle industry.