Whistleblower accuses Tesla of spying on employees at Gigafactory

The security gate outside the Tesla Motors Gigafactory construction site east of Reno Nev

Modal Trigger The security gate outside the Tesla Motors Gigafactory construction site east of Reno Nev. The Washington Post Getty Images

Among the claims, the whistleblower says that an estimated $37 million in precious metals and equipment were stolen from the facility, along with several employees being involved in a drug trafficking ring.

A former member of Tesla's internal investigations team, Karl Hansen, filed a tips, complaints and referrals form to the SEC about the Gigafactory on August 9, Hansen's attorney Stuart Meissner said in a news release.

"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. Although he notified his three supervisors at the auto maker, Tesla discouraged him from going to law enforcement.

"Tesla refused to do so and instead advised him that Tesla would hire "outside vendors" to further investigate the issue", Meissner said in the news release. Unfortunately, it seems like the investigation never happened.

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Tesla said it took the allegations seriously and investigated, but that "some of his claims are outright false" and "others could not be corroborated".

Hansen was apparently fired by Tesla after raising the issues internally.

With the situation still ongoing, it remains unclear how much these whistleblowers claims will affect Tesla and the operations at its Gigafactory. The first whistleblower, Martin Tripp, also a former Gigafactory worker, alleged that the company inflated the number of Model 3s it produced each week, that it used punctured batteries in its cars and that it reused scrapped parts without regard to safety.

Hansen is the second Tesla employee to file a whistleblower complaint with the SEC.

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The complaint sent to the SEC comes amid intense focus on the company and Chief Executive Elon Musk, whose tweets about taking the company private last week set off a scramble to determine whether he violated securities law in stating that funding for the deal was "secured". The EV maker allegedly installed "specialized router equipment within its Nevada Gigafactory created to capture employee cell phone communications and/or retrieve employee cell phone data" even after Tripp was sacked.

In his lawyer's statement, Hansen also claims that $37 million worth of materials were stolen from Tesla between January and June of this year, that he was told not to report the theft and that a Tesla employee who did so was sacked. The Meissner firm recently released police reports relating to this past June's GigaGate incident indicating that Tesla security personnel may have unlawfully accessed Mr. Tripp's cell phone long after he was sacked by Tesla.

It corroborates with an earlier report from Jalopnik that an operations manager at the Fremont factory was sacked after he informed supervisors that one of his colleagues was stealing company-owned parts and materials.

Tesla and Musk have not responded to multiple requests from Business Insider for comment about Hansen's claims. A company spokesperson said, "We don't have any comment".

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"This guy is super [nuts]", Musk reportedly told Gizmodo, using the emoji for a peanut. "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 fantastic spying ability". 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.

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