Nikola Corp has agreed to pay $125 million to settle civil claims that it misled investors about its products, technological breakthroughs, and commercial prospects, according to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged the electric vehicle maker of breaking US securities laws by making various false statements concerning in-house production capability, reservation book, and financial outlook from March to September 2020.

The settlement comes after civil and criminal charges were brought in July against Nikola's creator Trevor Milton for misrepresenting the company's technology and capabilities on social media, netting "tens of millions of dollars" as a result of his actions. Milton is fighting the allegations in court after losing a plea to have the case dismissed or moved.Nikola's stock rockets after GM takes $2 billion equity stake, announces partnership - MarketWatch

Nikola has committed to participate in ongoing litigation and inquiry, according to the SEC. Nikola did not admit or refute the SEC's allegations. The firm had previously stated in November that it expected to be hit with a significant fine.

The SEC's enforcement director, Gurbir Grewal, said in a statement that Nikola "is liable both for Milton's allegedly deceptive statements and for other alleged deceptions, all of which inaccurately reflected the true status of the company's business and technology."

Nikola went public in June 2020 through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), a mechanism that the SEC has chastised for having less initial scrutiny than the regular IPO process.

The SEC's chair announced earlier this month that the agency was considering tightening restrictions on how underwriters, boards of directors, and sponsors of SPACs structure fees, publish projections and disclose conflicts.

The initiatives are part of the Securities and Exchange Commission's larger assault on the industry this year. Top auditors have also been urged to improve their accounting processes, and a broad enforcement investigation into Wall Street institutions involved in the deals has been begun.