The New York Supreme Court dismissed the case of climate-change charges against ExxonMobil (Exxon), a giant American oil & gas corporation on December 10, 2019. The court has ruled its verdict in the favor of the company and announced the allegations of climate-change against Exxon proved wrong.
A Brief Background of the Charges
The lawsuit against Exxon began in 2015 and the then New York Attorney General (AG), Eric Schneiderman started investigation against the company. The AG had been examining the company’s climate-change accounting and communicating its investors.
The company was sued in 2018 for violating the ‘Martin Act’ which deals with the legal provisions related to the false promises and fraudulent practices in sales or purchases of commodities. As per the pieces of evidence, the AG’s office started filing the lawsuit against Exxon in 2018, alleging that it withheld information on climate-risks and maintaining two different accounting records, one for shareholders and the other for its company’s internal purposes.
Exxon’s case became the first climate change-related trial conducted in the US. According to Barry Ostrager, New York Supreme Court Judge, the case has been finally closed. The AG had initially charged four fraud-related charges against Exxon, but dropped the charges of equitable fraud and common law fraud early December 2019.
During a nearly three week trial, Exxon employees including accountants, auditors, and experts made their testimonies in the court but AG could not prove the company’s charges.
The reaction of the Court’s Ruling
Casey Norton, the Exxon spokesperson, shared, “Today’s ruling affirms the position ExxonMobil has held throughout the New York attorney general’s baseless investigation. We provided our investors with accurate information on the risks of climate change.” Ostrager explained, despite AG’s investigation using Exxon’s official documents, yet the AG could not prove it.
Ostrager further explained, the company’s employees have been “uniformly committed to rigorously discharging their duties in the most comprehensive and meticulous manner possible. It demonstrated that EM has a culture of disciplined analysis, planning, and accounting.”
A report added that each employee testified that they were unaware of any scheme, within the company to mislead investors about the way it manages climate change-related risk. As Ostrager commented, “There was not a single ExxonMobil employee whose testimony the court found to be anything other than truthful.”
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