Nikola Founder Steps Down Amidst Allegations

Calling it a “ leadership transition,” Nikola Corp. announced that founder that Trevor Milton has approached the company’s board of directors and proposed to voluntarily step aside as executive chairman and from the board.

The board accepted his proposal, and Stephen Girsky, former Vice Chairman of General Motors Co. and a member of Nikola’s Board, has been appointed chairman of the board, effective immediately.

The Wall Street Journal and many others are reporting that Milton is stepping down amidst allegations of securities fraud and making false statements to investors. The WSJ said Nikola has come under scrutiny since short seller Hindenburg Research released a report earlier this month accusing the company and Milton of making exaggerated claims about the readiness of Nikola’s technology and how much of it is proprietary.

Girsky is a managing partner of VectoIQ, LLC, an independent advisory firm based in New York. Girsky served in a number of capacities at General Motors Co. from November 2009 until July 2014, including vice chairman, having responsibility for global corporate strategy, new business development, global product planning and program management, global connected consumer/OnStar, and GM Ventures LLC, global research & development and global purchasing and supply chain.

“Nikola is truly in my blood and always will be, and the focus should be on the company and its world-changing mission, not me,” said Milton. “So I made the difficult decision to approach the board and volunteer to step aside as executive chairman. Founding Nikola and growing it into a company that will change transportation for the better and help protect our world’s climate has been an incredible honor.”

“We remain committed to delivering on our objectives and creating value for our shareholders,” said Mark Russell, Nikola’s chief executive officer. “Along with the rest of the management team, I will continue to work closely with Steve and the Board to advance Nikola’s vision for the future. Our priorities remain unchanged and, in collaboration with our partners, we are laser-focused on executing on our strategic initiatives and laying the groundwork to become a vertically integrated zero-emissions transportation solutions provider.”

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