A second Tesla whistleblower has filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), alleging a Mexican drug cartel operated within the automaker’s Nevada Gigafactory, while others stole $37 million in copper and other raw materials.
Instead of properly notifying investors and regulators, Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to the predicaments by illegally wiretapping and hacking employee cell phones and computers, whistleblower Karl Hansen alleges.
Mr. Hansen, who worked for Tesla’s internal security department and investigations division, says he voiced his concerns internally, urging Tesla to take proper action in responding to the issues. But instead of heeding his advice, the carmaker ordered Mr. Hansen to cease investigating the problems. Mr. Hansen says Tesla isolated him in retaliation for raising the concerns and then fired him on July 16.
According to Mr. Hansen, Tesla failed to disclose the theft of $37 million worth of copper and other valuable materials from the Nevada Gigaplant that occurred between January and June 2018. Mr. Hansen alleges the company instructed him not to report the thefts to outside law enforcement and ordered him to cease his internal investigation of the issue.
Another Tesla employee who reported some of the thefts to law enforcement was fired after being told he was not a “Tesla team player,” Mr. Hansen alleges.
Mr. Hansen’s SEC whistleblower submission also accuses Tesla of failing to disclose a recent investigation it received from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Storey County Sheriff’s Task Force alleging an employee in Tesla’s Gigafactory was participating in a narcotics trafficking ring involving the sale of significant quantities of cocaine and possibly crystal meth on behalf of a Mexican drug cartel from Sonora Mexico.
Mr. Hansen tells the SEC that on June 12, he reported to Tesla that he was able to corroborate alleged connections between the Tesla employee and the Mexican drug cartel. But when he urged Tesla to disclose his findings to law enforcement and DEA task force, Tesla refused to act and instead advised him that Tesla would hire “outside vendors” to further investigate the issue. Mr. Hansen alleges he believes Tesla never conducted any further investigations and that it never provided the corroborating information to law enforcement.
Tesla wiretapped and hacked the cell phone and computer of former Tesla engineer Martin Tripp and other employees, Mr. Hansen says. Mr. Tripp became the first whistleblower to accuse Tesla of consumer and investor fraud when he went public with his accusations after being fired in July.