Energy

Massachusetts Goes After Exxon For Allegedly Duping Investors About Risks Climate Change Posed

REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

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Chris White Tech Reporter

Massachusetts’s attorney general office filed a court brief Tuesday accusing ExxonMobil of defrauding investors on matters related to the company’s handling of global warming.

AG Maura Healey has long sought documents from Exxon about the oil producer’s climate, energy and financial dealings since 2016. Her complaint, which claims Exxon duped shareholders about the risk of climate change, is closely aligned with a lawsuit New York made leveled against Exxon in October.

The cases in New York and Massachusetts are similar in some respects, but they do deviate on two key issues. Exxon has turned over more than 1 million pages of documents to Underwood’s office while Healey’s office has received no documentation. (RELATED: NY Sues Exxon For Allegedly Defrauding Shareholders On Climate Change Risks)

“Investment advisors at those entities make decisions about purchasing and selling Exxon securities based on what Exxon communicates to them, whether directly or indirectly, through private and public statements about future earnings and risks to the value of its assets over time,” Haley, a Democrat, said in the court brief.

She said the court brief was made on behalf of Massachusetts’ public-sector funds that hold billions of dollars worth of Exxon stock.

“Indeed, at least one Massachusetts-based investment firm manager has complained publicly about how Exxon’s ‘willfully distorted view’ on environmental risks to its assets’ value was harming investors,” the brief added.

Exxon has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about Healey’s complaint.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks at a news conference with other U.S. State Attorney's General to announce a state-based effort to combat climate change in the Manhattan borough of New York

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks at a news conference with other U.S. State Attorney’s General to announce a state-based effort to combat climate change in the Manhattan borough of New York City, March 29, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The Texas-based company has painted the years-long probe as an attempt to restrict the company’s First Amendment rights while providing thousands of documents to investigators. The company and New York have haggled over the issue for years before the state officially pursued legal charges.

Both legal actions stem primarily from a probe conducted by former New York AG Eric Schneiderman in 2015 that was based on reports from Inside Climate News and The Los Angeles Times. They claimed Exxon spent years hiding information from shareholders showing the risks climate change posed to their investments.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) engaged in a similar investigation into whether the company overvalued assets in the face of future climate regulations. The SEC eventually dropped the probe in August and noted in a letter that it would not recommend enforcement actions. The message included a disclaimer stating the probe could be reopened at a later date.

Editors’ note: A previous version of this article inaccurately identified Massachusetts legal pursuit as a lawsuit. The state filed a complaint against Exxon. The article has been updated to reflect the changes.  

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