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Whistle-blower: Theft, drug dealing, spying at Tesla Gigafactory

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A former Tesla employee has filed a complaint with the SEC outlining accusations of theft and spying. File Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE

By Susan McFarland, UPI

A former Tesla security employee has filed a whistle-blower complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, accusing the the electric automaker of covering up theft and spying on employees.

Former Tesla security employee Karl Hansen is the second former employee to make the claims, and he's represented by the same attorney, Stuart Meissner.

Tesla sued the first whistle-blower, Martin Tripp, in June -- saying he hacked its manufacturing operating system and illegally exported company data.

[post_ads]Tripp said he was fired and Tesla sued him for attempting to warn investors and the public about issues with the automaker.
 
Hansen's complaint, filed Aug. 9, says the company failed to disclose to shareholders that $37 million worth of copper and other raw materials were stolen from its Nevada Gigafactory earlier this year.

"The concern is about material information and omissions to shareholders, and whether or not this information was shared with Tesla's board of directors as well," Meissner told CNBC. "A failure to report a $37 million theft obviously would appear to impact books and records."

The complaint also says Tesla spied on employees by wiretapping and hacking their cellphones and computers, failed to report a Gigafactory employee for potential drug trafficking and retaliated against Hansen for raising the concerns.

The Storey County, Nev., Sheriff's Office said it could not confirm the reports of drug activity, but added reports received about theft were investigated and referred to the district attorney.

Tesla said it made numerous attempts to engage with Hansen about the issues, but he refused.

"Mr. Hansen's allegations were taken very seriously when he brought them forward. Some of his claims are outright false," a company statement said. "Others could not be corroborated, so we suggested additional investigative steps to try and validate the information he had received second-hand from a single anonymous source.

"It seems strange that Mr. Hansen would claim that he is concerned about something happening within the company, but then refuse to engage with the company to discuss the information that he believes he has."
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been under recent scrutiny for failing to meet production targets and tweeting about plans to take the company private.

In an interview with The New York Times, Musk said the past year has been "the most difficult and painful" of his career.

"It was excruciating," he said.

During the emotional interview, Musk said he's had little time to spend with family, almost missed his brother's wedding and spent his birthday at the office.

When asked if exhaustion was taking a toll on his health, Musk answered, "It's not been great, actually. I've had friends come by who are really concerned."

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