Tesla Announces CFO Transition: Vaibhav Taneja to Succeed Zachary Kirkhorn

On August 4, 2023, Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) unveiled a pivotal shift in its top-tier management, as reported in a recent United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing. Zachary Kirkhorn, having held the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) title for four years, has chosen to step aside. The baton now passes to Vaibhav Taneja, Tesla’s present Chief Accounting Officer.

Transitioning Smoothly

After dedicating thirteen years to Tesla, during which he wore the hats of both Master of Coin and CFO, Kirkhorn is set to make his exit. His tenure witnessed remarkable growth and expansion for the electric car giant. Kirkhorn’s statement highlighted his pride in Tesla’s achievements and extended gratitude to the workforce and Elon Musk for their relentless drive.

To ensure a fluid transition, Kirkhorn will remain associated with Tesla till the year’s end, aiding the handover process.

Spotlight on Vaibhav Taneja

45-year-old Vaibhav Taneja joined the Tesla brigade in February 2017. Over the years, he has donned various roles, ascending from Assistant Corporate Controller to Chief Accounting Officer by March 2019. Before his Tesla journey, Taneja honed his skills in finance and accounting at SolarCity Corporation from March 2016. He also boasts a tenure at PricewaterhouseCoopers, serving both the Indian and U.S. branches between July 1999 and March 2016.

Tesla Turns a New Leaf

Taneja’s elevation to the CFO role signifies a fresh phase for Tesla, underscoring its dedication to robust financial stewardship. This move is set against the backdrop of Tesla’s continued dominance in the electric vehicle arena, complemented by its ventures in energy solutions and tech advancements.

This executive reshuffle was officially communicated through a Form 8-K submission to the SEC. The transition is slated to be effective from August 4, 2023. For stock enthusiasts, Tesla’s shares can be found on The Nasdaq Global Select Market, trading under the “TSLA” ticker.

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SPAC CFO Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling $5M

Cooper Morgenthau, the former CFO of African Gold Acquisition Corporation (AGAC), has been sentenced to three years in prison for embezzling $5 million from three different Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs). The sentencing comes as a result of Morgenthau’s use of the embezzled funds to trade cryptocurrencies and meme stocks, leading to significant losses. In addition to his prison sentence, Morgenthau has been ordered to forfeit $5.1 million and pay restitution of the same amount.

The embezzlement scheme began in June 2021 and continued until August 2022, during which time Morgenthau wired approximately $1.2 million from African Gold to his personal accounts for trading purposes. He traded equities and options of cryptocurrencies and meme stocks, leading to almost all of the funds being lost. Following the losses, he then provided falsified documents to accountants and an auditor at African Gold ahead of its public filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This led to “material misstatements” in the company’s public financial records.

Moreover, Morgenthau raised an additional $4.7 million from private investors in a separate SPAC, based on the fraudulent claim that the money would be used to launch yet another SPAC. Unfortunately for the investors, Morgenthau used the freshly-raised capital to cover his losses at African Gold and continue further trading of cryptocurrencies and meme stocks.

The malpractice was discovered by African Gold in August 2022, resulting in Morgenthau being fired, and the SEC being informed. Subsequently, Morgenthau pled guilty to one count of wire fraud on January 3.

The case sends a clear message to the SPAC community that fraud in the markets will not be tolerated. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement, “With today’s sentencing of Cooper Morgenthau, SPAC promoters have been sent a message that fraud in the SPAC markets will be punished, and greed on Wall Street will be met with serious consequences.”

SPACs have become increasingly popular over recent years, and this case highlights the importance of proper oversight and compliance in the sector. While SPACs offer companies a faster and less complicated path to going public, they also come with risks. Embezzlement and fraud can damage the reputation of the entire industry, leading to regulatory scrutiny and increased oversight. As such, it is essential for SPACs and their investors to take proper precautions and perform proper due diligence when selecting management teams and making investment decisions.


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Animoca Brands Hires Jared Shaw as New CFO

Blockchain venture capital and gaming startup Animoca Brands have added new experts to its executive train, highlighting yet again its readiness to take a frontline leadership role in the industry. 


In the latest update, Animoca Brands said it has hired Jared Shaw as its new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Shaw’s experiences also feature the Gemini exchange, where he held a similar role and was instrumental in helping the crypto exchange chart an ambitious growth.

As the new CFO at Animoca Brands, the company said Shaw will oversee and support the strategic financial direction of Animoca Brands and its more than 380 portfolio companies.

“Jared has a wealth of experience spanning audit, asset management, crypto, and more. He joins us at a time when the finance team is growing rapidly and building strong capabilities,” Evan Auyang, president of Animoca Brands, “Jared brings to us not only relevant experience from leading Gemini’s finance operations, but also extensive business, audit, and asset management experience at Goldman Sachs, Ernst & Young, and Prudential. We believe that Jared’s strong leadership background will help to take Animoca Brands to the next level.”

Animoca Brands is one of the most capitalized companies in the digital currency ecosystem, having topped its liquidity pool with a new $110 million funding received earlier this month, as reported by Blockchain.News. 

To properly position its business, Animoca Brands has also hired May Szeto as the Group’s HR Director, Jamii Quoc as the Head of Legal – Commercial and M&A, Samuel Tse as the M&A Director, and Josh Du who will be the new Head of Digital Assets Portfolio.

Buffing up its management team is not a new move for Animoca Brands, as the company made a related pushback in July. At the time, it added Alan Lau as the Chief Business Officer, as well as a host of other industry veterans. 

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Celsius Network Petitions Court to Consult Former CFO Rod Bolger

Embattled cryptocurrency lending platform Celsius Network has petitioned the US Bankruptcy Court to grant it permission to re-engage Rod Bolger, its former Chief Financial Officer (CFO).


The firm highlighted its plan to tap from the wealth of experience Bolger, which he deployed in the firm’s services when he was the CFO for a period of 5 months.

Bolger replaced Yaron Shalem, who was nabbed for his crypto-related fraud activities. Chris Ferraro succeeded Bolger. Should the petition to onboard him be granted by the court, Bolger will join the list of advisers the firm has employed for consultation ahead of the hearing slated for August 5.

“As CFO for the Debtors during the extreme market volatility in 2022, Bolger led efforts to steady the business, guided the financial aspects of the business, and acted as a leader of the company,” the petition reads as it makes an argument with the court. “Through the Advisory Agreement, the Debtors will be able to continue utilising Mr. Bolger’s institutional knowledge and services for at least two additional months for the benefit of their business and their estates as they continue to transition roles and responsibilities to their new CFO.”

Celsius Network resisted filing for bankruptcy for a while, and now that it has succumbed, the firm needed the best hands to help it douse the tension with customers, investors, and creditors. For his role, Bolger is bound to be handsomely rewarded as his monthly wage is set for Canadian $120,000 ($93,188), 

This new salary scale is even more than his salary while serving as the firm’s CFO, as he earned $750,000 yearly. Had he not resigned as the CFO, he would have gone on to receive performance-based cash bonuses, up to 800,000 CEL tokens.


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