Nikola completely lied about the Badger EV having Nikola parts, says the GM engineer in court

Nikola completely lied about the Badger EV having Nikola parts, says the GM engineer in court

Scott Damman, a senior General Motors executive who was sent to work with Nikola as the companies eyed a tie-up, testified in court that the EV startup’s former CEO made false claims about the electric pickup truck.

The startup’s former CEO, Trevor Milton, is charged with securities and wire fraud for allegedly defrauding investors with false claims about Nikola’s business. Damman was called as a witness by the prosecution to tell about his experience with the start-up.

In his testimony, the GM engineer said Milton had falsely claimed Nikola was responsible for most of the parts used to make the Badger, a pickup truck the company planned to sell to the general public.

Also read: Prosecutors say Nikola founder became a billionaire by lying to investors

In a 2020 video interview, Milton was recorded saying that Badger is “probably 70 percent Nikola, 30 percent GM, when it comes to the parts that are really important to us.” However, this figure is disputed by Damman.

“No components came from Nikola,” he told the jury, per Bloomberg. “They owned the creative design, how the vehicle looked and felt, but all the parts had to come from General Motors.”

The automaker also took $5,000 in advance payments for the Badger in June 2020, before it had a prototype or plans to produce the pickup. Public discussions about the truck, and a short-lived deal with GM, helped inflate the company’s value and lure investors.

These false claims, and others about Nikola’s success in cutting the cost of hydrogen, led investors to put more money into the company than they otherwise would have. Joseph Ryan, another witness called by federal prosecutors, testified that he made investments based on these claims and that it cost him about $160,000.

Milton’s defense team, meanwhile, argues that his words, meanings and intentions have been distorted. Nikola’s current CEO, Mark Russel, doesn’t help the defense’s case, however, because he testified that Milton “was prone to exaggeration in public statements,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

If the defense team fails to convince the jury, Milton could face a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.

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