July 29 (UPI) -- Federal prosecutors in New York City on Thursday charged Nikola Motor Company founder Trevor Milton with securities and wire fraud for allegedly making false statements about the company, which manufactures electric trucks.
Prosecutors said Milton, 39, is charged with three counts of criminal fraud for lying about "nearly all aspects of the business" to increase sales.
The Twitter account for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan announced the charges on Thursday.
"[Milton] engaged in a fraudulent scheme to deceive retail investors about Nikola's products, technical advancements, and commercial prospects for his own personal benefit," The Securities and Exchange Commission, which also filed charges against Milton, said in a complaint.
"Milton did so primarily by leveraging his social media presence and frequent appearances on television and podcasts to flood the market with false and misleading information about Nikola."
Milton surrendered to authorities in New York City on Thursday morning.
Milton resigned from Nikola last year amid fraud accusations and vowed to defend himself. Thursday, the company said it's not involved in the charges.
"Trevor Milton resigned from Nikola ... and has not been involved in the company's operations or communications since that time," Nikola said in a statement. "Today's government actions are against Mr. Milton individually, and not against the company.
"The company has cooperated with the government throughout the course of its inquiry."
Nikola has developed hydrogen-electric semi-trucks aimed at the European market. Last fall, the company announced a partnership with General Motors to develop a pickup truck powered by Nikola's hydrogen fuel cell.
In 2018, Nikola sued electric automaker Tesla for $2 billion for patent infringement.