- Joe Skipper / Reuters
- Elon Musk responded Thursday to a former Tesla employee’s claims that the company spied on workers and kept quiet about alleged theft and drug-trafficking.
- In a direct message to Gizmodo, Musk reportedly attempted to discredit the former employee and dismissed his charges, but didn’t deny them outright.
- The employee also claimed that Tesla staffed its security team with former members of a notorious security group at Uber that allegedly spied on rivals.
- Musk didn’t confirm or deny that the former Uber security workers now work for Tesla, but he defended one of them to Gizmodo.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday reportedly attempted to discredit a former security employee who alleges that the car maker spied on employees and kept quiet about drug-trafficking at its battery factory.
Karl Hansen made the allegations in a whistleblower tip he submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month. Hansen’s lawyers made the allegations public in a press statement released Thursday.
Tesla and Musk have not responded to multiple requests from Business Insider for comment about Hansen’s claims. But in a direct message Gizmodo says it received from Musk, the CEO reportedly attacked Hansen and dismissed his allegations, but didn’t explicitly deny them.
“This guy is super [nuts],” Musk reportedly told Gizmodo, using the emoji for a peanut.
The statement from Hansen’s lawyers accuses Musk of personally authorizing Tesla’s security team to install equipment that would allow the company to eavesdrop on employees’ cell-phone communications. According to the statement, the security team then used it to spy on employees, including Martin Tripp, another Tesla whistleblower.
Hansen also alleges that the security team and Tesla failed to disclose to shareholders and law-enforcement officials a $37 million theft of materials from the company’s Gigafactory battery production facility, and allegations that a drug-trafficking ring linked to a Mexican cartel existed inside that facility.
Musk dismissed the allegations
In his direct message to Gizmodo, Musk suggested that those charges were contradictory and ludicrous.
“He is simultaneously saying that our security sucks (it’s not great, but I’m pretty sure we aren’t a branch of the Sinaloa cartel like he claims) and that we have amazing spying ability,” he said, according to Gizmodo. “Those can’t both be true.”
Tesla’s security team includes employees who formerly worked for a notorious security group at Uber that allegedly spied on rivals, according to the statement from Hansen’s attorneys. Among those former Uber security employees now at Tesla is Nick Gicinto, who is now the electric-car company’s head of security, according to the statement.
Without saying whether Gicinto or his former colleagues at Uber now work at Tesla, Musk defended Gicinto to Gizmodo. The outlet should read the suit Gicinto and his colleagues filed against the former Uber employee who made the allegations about the security team spying on the app-based taxi company’s competitors, Musk said.
“Nick Jacinto (sic) was thrown under the bus by Uber for the sins of others,” he reportedly said, adding: “He has shown high integrity in my dealings with him.”