Trevor Milton, founder and former chairman of electric vehicle company Nikola, has been charged by federal prosecutors with three counts of fraud.
The indictment, unsealed Thursday, accuses Milton of making multiple "false and misleading statements" to investors. The allegations include Milton saying the company had made a "fully functioning" semi-truck when in fact the company's Nikola One prototype was inoperable, and that Nikola was producing hydrogen and building batteries when neither was actually true.
"Milton's scheme targeted individual, non-professional investors," the indictment said, and ultimately cost those retail investors huge amounts of money. As a result, Milton shall now forfeit "all property, real and personal, that constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the commission of said offenses." Bloomberg reported that Milton voluntarily surrendered and is currently in federal custody.
The indictment is hardly surprising, given the long-running allegations against Milton that led him to step down from his position atop Nikola last fall. Many of the allegations were first uncovered by activist short-seller Hindenburg Research, which called the company an "intricate fraud." (Hindenburg has also accused Chamath Palihapitiya of misleading investors over Clover Health.) GM also backed out of a strategic partnership with the company, and Nikola's stock has been down ever since.