Tesla faces more whistleblower allegations from a second former employee

Tesla Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada [CREDIT – YouTube user California Phantom]

A second employee at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada has filed for whistleblower protection, alleging that the company covered up an investigation into drug trafficking at the factory.

The latest report was first carried by Jalopnik.

The latest whistleblower, Karl Hansen, worked in the automaker’s internal security department and alleges that the company failed to disclose to shareholders that authorities had discovered an employee trafficking “substantial” amounts of cocaine and possibly crystal methamphetamine tied to a Mexican drug cartel. He says the Drug Enforcement Agency alerted him to the problem and alleges that the employee was not fired as long as Hansen worked at Tesla.

Hansen also alleges that he uncovered thefts of copper and other raw materials from the Gigafactory that were not investigated.

Hansen said in a statement: “I hope that shining a light on Tesla’s practices will cause appropriate governmental action against the company and its management.”

A copy of Hansen’s complaint, shared with the media by his attorney Stuart Meissner, said that Hansen was assigned to follow up the DEA tip, and when he confirmed the drug trafficking, he asked Tesla to report his findings to a DEA task force, but that the company refused.

Hansen was fired from the company in July.

Tour of Tesla battery gigafactory for invited owners, Reno, Nevada, July 2016

In response to Hansen’s complaint, a Tesla spokeswoman said in a statement emailed to Green Car Reports, “Mr. Hansen’s allegations were taken very seriously when he brought them forward. Some of his claims are outright false. Others could not be corroborated, so we suggested additional investigative steps to try and validate the information he had received second-hand from a single anonymous source. Because we wanted to be sure we got this right, we made numerous attempts to engage further with Mr. Hansen to understand more about what he was claiming and the work that he did in reaching his conclusions. He rejected each of those attempts, and to date has refused to speak with the company further. It seems strange that Mr. Hansen would claim that he is concerned about something happening within the company, but then refuse to engage with the company to discuss the information that he believes he has.”

Meissner originally said Hansen was investigating a drug ring, and later corrected the statement to reflect that it was a single individual working that may have been working for a Mexican drug cartel.

The DEA, meanwhile, told Buzzfeed that it would not reveal an investigation to anyone outside law enforcement, such as Hansen.

Several complaints

Martin Tripp, another whistleblower from the Gigafactory who claims the factory has installed damaged batteries in Tesla Model 3s and is mishandling toxic wastes, made claims that the automaker is negligent in other arieas.

On Thursday morning, Tripp tweeted pictures purporting to show damaged battery packs that were later installed in Tesla Model 3s, along with a list of VIN numbers to corroborate his claims. He also claims that Tesla is storing potentially hazardous waste in trailers in a Gigafactory parking lot which should be stored in a climate controlled warehouse.

He has since closed his Twitter account on the advice of Meissner, who is his attorney.

Tesla responded to Tripp’s photos with a statement: “As we’ve said before, these claims are false and Mr. Tripp does not even have personal knowledge about the safety claims that he is making. No punctured cells have ever been used in any Model 3 vehicles in any way, and all VINs that have been identified have safe batteries. Notably, there have been zero battery safety issues in any Model 3.”

Tesla has also sued Tripp for stealing trade secrets. Tripp has countersued Tesla for defamation and has set up a GoFundMe page to cover his legal expenses. 

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