The US Department of Justice has made inquiries regarding accusations from a short-seller this week that electric-truck startup Nikola engaged in “intricate fraud,” the Financial Times reported Tuesday.
The report follows the Securities and Exchange Commission’s reported examination of the allegations made by Hindenburg research last week that have largely wiped out market gains by Nikola following a $2 billion General Motors deal announcement.
The DOJ did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
According to the FT, the US Attorney’s office for the South District of New York has made phone calls about the accusations, most of which Nikola has outright rejected. However, the company did admit to some of the things alleged by Hindenburg, including rolling a non-operational prototype truck down a hill in order to film a promotional video, but took issue with characterizations that it had been deceptive.
The paper also confirmed Bloomberg’s reporting that the SEC was involved, something Nikola has said it supports. Company representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the DOJ’s potential involvement.
In the days since Hindenburg published its report, Nikola has retained high-profile legal and crisis communications services from the likes of Kirkland & Ellis and Joele Frank.
“The report from Hindenburg, an activist short-seller financially motivated to manipulate the market and profit from a manufactured decline in Nikola’s stock price, contains a number of false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s operations and multi-year, groundbreaking R&D efforts,” Nikola said Monday in its rebuttal.
Shares of Nikola fell about 8% in trading Tuesday, but were little changed after the Financial Times’ report.
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