Another former employee of Tesla Inc. has accused the company of spying on its employees at its Gigafactory 1 outside Reno, Nevada, and is telling practically the same story as a whistleblower did in August 2018.
Former global security lead Sean Gouthro, who was fired by Tesla in January 2019 allegedly for “poor performance,” filed an official whistleblower tip with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleging Tesla illegally monitored mobile phone conversations and text messages of its employees using sophisticated equipment. Gouthro filed the tip on Jan. 24 after his firing.
His lawyer, Stuart Meissner, said Gouthro can also corroborate previous claims Tesla interfered with internal investigations into the alleged theft of $37 million of raw material at the Gigafactory. Meissner said Tesla failed to disclose this and other illegal activities to the authorities and to shareholders.
He said Gouthro’s exposé supports the account of Karl Hansen, another former member of Tesla’s security team and one of his clients.
In August 2018, Hansen filed a whistleblower tip with the SEC alleging Tesla, at the direction of CEO Elon Musk, installed surveillance equipment at the Gigafactory to eavesdrop on the personal mobile phones of employees while at work. This surveillance equipment consisted of specialized router equipment “designed to capture employee cell phone communications and/or retrieve employee cell phone data,” said Meissner.
Hansen also claims his team found evidence of a “substantial drug trafficking” ring at the Gigafactory, as well as the massive theft of raw materials. He also claims Tesla “instructed (him) not to report the thefts to outside law enforcement.”
Hansen alleges Tesla failed to reveal to investors it received written notice from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) about a Tesla employee possibly selling cocaine and crystal methamphetamine from the Gigafactory on behalf of a Mexican drug cartel.
Hansen further alleged Tesla didn’t disclose to investors that thieves stole $37 million in copper and other raw materials during the first half of 2018.
Tesla denied Guthro’s claims. “Like the claims of Mr. Meissner’s other clients, Mr. Gouthro’s allegations are untrue and sensationalized, only intended to seek the attention of the media,” said a Tesla spokesperson.
“For several weeks prior to today’s release, Mr. Meissner has been aggressively shopping this story to the media.”
Tesla also said Gouthro “raised absolutely none of the concerns he has now brought to the media” after he was was interviewed in August and September 2018 by a company compliance attorney “as part of an internal investigation into some of the very issues he is now bringing forward.”