A former Tesla employee has filed a whistleblower tip with the SEC corroborating a claim that the company hacked employee cellphones and computers

By Mark Matousek

A former Tesla employee has filed a whistleblower tip with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the law firm representing the employee said in a statement on Monday.

The tip from Sean Gouthro, the former head of Tesla's global security operations center and investigations, was filed on January 24 and corroborates a tip filed in August from Karl Hansen, a former internal security employee at Tesla, Meissner Associates said in the statement.

Whistleblowing tips can lead to fines and sanctions against companies found guilty of violating securities law.

Read more: Tesla is raising the prices on cars that it marked down less than 2 weeks ago

Hansen's tip claimed that Tesla did not disclose to shareholders the theft of raw materials and the unauthorized surveillance and hacking of employee cellphones and computers, according to Meissner Associates, as well as that Tesla did not tell federal authorities about information it received from Hansen about drug trafficking at the company's Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk described Hansen in a Twitter direct message to Gizmodo at the time with the peanuts emoji.

The SEC and the Drug Enforcement Administration declined to comment at the time.

Gouthro's tip also claims that a proposal to take Tesla private in 2018 was discussed and viewed with skepticism by "many" Tesla employees before Musk tweeted about it in August, Meissner Associates said.

"Many were suspect of the purported deal's legitimacy," Gouthro's tip claims, according to Meissner Associates.

Musk's tweets about the go-private proposal led to a lawsuit from the SEC, which alleged that Musk had made "false and misleading statements" about the level of interest Tesla had received from investors about the deal. The SEC's lawsuit resulted in a settlement that required Musk to step down as the chairman of Tesla's board of directors for three years and pay a $20 million fine, and Tesla to monitor Musk's communications relevant to shareholders.

A Tesla representative denied Gouthro's and Hansen's claims and disputed Meissner Associates' description of Gouthro as a former senior-level employee.

"Mr. Gouthro worked at Tesla for approximately one year as a Security Control Center Supervisor and, like Mr. Meissner's other clients, was terminated from Tesla. Mr. Gouthro, a mid-level security professional, was let go for poor performance, including repeated failure to demonstrate and understand best practices in the security industry. In August 2018 and in September 2018, Mr. Gouthro was interviewed by a Tesla compliance attorney as part of an internal investigation into some of the very issues he is now bringing forward, and he raised absolutely none of the concerns he has now brought to the media," the representative said.

"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," the representative added.

The SEC declined to comment.

Gouthro is the third former Tesla employee represented by Meissner Associates to announce the filing of a whistleblowing tip with the SEC in the past year. The Washington Post reported in July that Martin Tripp, a former technician at the Gigafactory, filed a tip— containing claims he had previously told Business Insider— that alleged that Tesla used batteries with puncture holes in vehicles meant for customers. Tesla has denied the claim.

Tripp also claimed that the company overreported Model 3 production by up to 44%, according to The Post.

Have a Tesla news tip? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com.