Elon Musk's Twitter account on Thursday appeared to mock the Securities and Exchange Commission only days after the Tesla Inc. chief executive settled fraud charges, suggesting the agency was enriching investors betting against the electric-car maker.
It later emerged in court documents filed by the SEC that while investors had briefly discussed the possibility, no funding had been secured and the figure Mr Musk suggested was a reference to April 20, a day celebrated by fans of marijuana, a drug that is legal in California but banned in the United Kingdom and several other U.S. states.
"Just want to that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work". Musk resigned as Chairman of the company, but remains the CEO and will have to pay a fine.
The SEC has so far declined to comment on either of Musk's tweets.
"I don't think the SEC would look at this as a denial of the facts alleged", said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit.
Musk doubled down on the tweet shortly after.
Musk's defiance on Twitter, where he has 22 million followers, could prove risky or unwise: Regulators had pushed to bar him from leading the company, and could do so again if they feel Musk or the company have not abided by the deal.
"It is the essence of free speech. It's just plain bad taste".
And he isn't just tweeting silly cat pics.
Tesla has consistently been one of the most-shorted USA stocks as many investors continue to bet on declines in share prices.
Shares of Tesla ended Thursday down 4.40% to $281.83.
Over the weekend, Musk fired off another tweet that some took as a subtle jab at the regulators seeking to control him.