(Bloomberg) — Omead Afshar, one of Elon Musk’s top lieutenants and the executive running Tesla Inc.’s Texas factory, is under scrutiny in an internal investigation for his role in a plan to purchase hard-to-get construction materials, according to people familiar with the matter.
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Tesla has already fired some employees in relation to the probe, and the electric-vehicle maker plans to part ways with Afshar, likely through a leave of absence initially, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. Terms of his exit are still being worked out.
Afshar declined to comment. Tesla and Musk didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The internal investigation, led by Tesla Acting Head of Legal David Searle, started after a purchase order for construction material was identified as suspicious, the people said.
The order, for a special kind of glass, was flagged to Tesla’s finance and internal audit groups earlier this year, the people said. Investigators are trying to determine whether the glass was for Tesla Chief Executive Officer Musk’s personal use, people with knowledge of the matter said.
Global supply chain disruptions have made the glass difficult to secure, but Tesla’s status as a global manufacturing powerhouse makes it easier for the company to acquire materials in high demand.
Afshar had requested the purchase order be created and told the workers involved it was for a secret project, the people said.
Afshar has continued to work at the Austin, Texas, plant this week, but is likely to take a leave of absence as the investigation continues, the people said.
As one of Musk’s top executives at Tesla, Afshar has been in charge of overseeing the construction and then production at the plant in Austin, Texas. A member of the office of the CEO since 2017, his most recent job title was listed on his LinkedIn page as a cowboy hat emoji.
Inside Tesla, Afshar was seen as Musk’s fixer, dispatched to smooth out kinks in the operation. In a 2019 interview at the University of California at Irvine, his alma mater, Afshar said he’d performed many roles at Tesla over the years.
“I focus on where there’s a problem, so a lot of firefighting. If there’s an issue, that’s where I am,” he said. “Usually when people see me they’re not always happy, because it means there’s a problem.”
Afshar graduated from UC Irvine in 2009 with a degree in biomedical engineering and a season’s experience as a ski instructor at California’s Mammoth Mountain, according to his LinkedIn profile. He worked for more than six years at St. Jude Medical Inc. and its acquirer, Abbott Laboratories, in product engineering and managing roles before joining Tesla, part of a cohort of young, ambitious executives handpicked by Musk to carry out orders.
He’s been a jack of all trades ever since. In early 2021, as the US was in the beginning stages of a Covid-19 vaccine rollout, Afshar wrote to California’s lead epidemiologist to convey a Tesla board member’s request to assist with distribution of the shot. By this year, Afshar was in Austin, providing tours to potential recruits from the nearby University of Texas. He briefly appeared on stage at Tesla’s Cyber Rodeo event in April, receiving a personal thank-you from Musk himself.
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