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Exxon Misled Investors On Climate Change: NY Prosecutor

4 June 2017, 12:24 pm EDT By Athena Chan Tech Times
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An investigation on Exxon Mobil led a New York prosecutor to believe that the company misled its investors on the matter of climate change and related regulations. Exxon calls the claim inaccurate, irresponsible, and politically motivated.  ( Scott Olson | Getty Images )

A New York prosecutor is calling out Exxon Mobil about evidence of the company misleading its investors regarding climate change. The alleged fraud is currently being investigated on as the company is pressed for more documents.

False And Misleading Statements?

It is no secret that Exxon Mobil is one of the world's largest oil companies. As such, talks of taking a step away from using oil and closer to cleaner energy has been quite problematic for the company in recent years.

Now, a New York prosecutor is calling Exxon's climate change policies a "sham" after discovering that Exxon Mobil possibly gave its investors misleading statements that may have led them to think the company had already taken possible future environmental regulations into consideration and assessed the risks of climate change.

According to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, contrary to what Exxon implied to its investors, the oil company's actual method for computing the potential costs of greenhouse gas regulations on the business may be less than accurate.

Specifically, Exxon Mobil had evidently shown investors what it called a "proxy cost" that represented its own accounting of potential changes to regulations that could possibly make burning fossil fuels more expensive. However, Attorney General Schneiderman said that it "may be a sham" because if Exxon had truly included it in its computations, at least one oil sand project could have shown a financial loss rather than a profit.

Rex Tillerson's 'Wayne Tracker' Alias

In addition to the "proxy cost" issue, the investigation of over 2 million documents submitted by Exxon Mobil evidently showed that former CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a separate email account where he used the alias "Wayne Tracker" in order to discuss climate change related topics. Current CEO Darren Woods allegedly has a similar email account under the name "J.E. Gray."

As such, Attorney General Schneiderman is seeking for Exxon to release more documents. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating Exxon Mobil's accounting and climate change practices.

This is bad news for the company when only last Wednesday, May 31, 62 percent of its shareholders voted to pressure the company into releasing information about how climate change and related regulations could impact the business.

Still, Exxon Mobil is fighting back, saying that the company's submitted statements were accurately described and it did take future government policies into consideration in financial computations. Exxon also stated that the Attorney General's statements are inaccurate, irresponsible, and politically motivated. The company said it will fully respond more in court.

Exxon Mobil is only one of the major U.S. companies that urged President Trump not to back out from the Paris climate deal.

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