Friday, January 28

SEC investigates Tesla for allegations of fire risk in solar panels

The investigation increases pressure on the world’s most valuable automaker, which is already facing a federal safety inquiry into accidents involving its driver support systems.

Concerns about the fires of Tesla’s solar systems have been published before, but this is the first investigative report by the securities regulator.

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The United States Securities Commission disclosed the Tesla investigation in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Steven Henkes, a former Tesla quality manager, who filed the complaint about solar systems in 2019 and asked to the agency information.

“We have confirmed with the Compliance Division staff that the investigation you are seeking records of is still active and ongoing,” the SEC said in a Sept. 24 response to Henkes, rejecting his request to provide his records.

The SEC official said the letter should not be taken as an indication by the agency that violations of the law had occurred. Reuters was able to confirm the answer.

Henkes, a former Toyota Motor quality division manager, was fired from Tesla in August 2020 and sued Tesla, claiming the firing was retaliation for raising safety concerns. Tesla did not respond to Reuters email questions, while the SEC declined to comment.

In the SEC complaint, Henkes said that Tesla and SolarCity, which it acquired in 2016, did not disclose their “liability and exposure to property damage, risk of user injury, fire, etc. to shareholders” before and after the acquisition.

Tesla also failed to notify customers that faulty electrical connectors could cause fires, according to the lawsuit.

More than 60,000 residential customers in the United States and 500 government and commercial customers were affected by the problem, according to the lawsuit he filed in November last year against Tesla Energy for wrongful termination.