ExxonMo­bil says US pros­e­cu­tor is abus­ing his in­ves­tiga­tive pow­ers

The Star Early Edition - - INTERNATIONAL - Ernest Schey­der and Emily Flit­ter

EXXONMO­BIL asked a New York court on Fri­day to re­ject an­other sub­poena re­quest from At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Sch­nei­der­man, ar­gu­ing the pros­e­cu­tor’s re­cent claim to have found ev­i­dence ExxonMo­bil mis­led in­vestors was false and that he was abus­ing his in­ves­tiga­tive pow­ers.

The com­pany said that Sch­nei­der­man’s al­le­ga­tion that ExxonMo­bil had ne­glected to es­ti­mate the im­pact of fu­ture en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tion on new deals was “friv­o­lous” and that no “le­git­i­mate law en­force­ment need” would be served by giv­ing his of­fice more doc­u­ments.

“For a pros­e­cu­tor pro­ceed­ing in good faith, the ab­sence of any ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing is grounds for clos­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, not ex­pand­ing it,” Exxon wrote in its fil­ing with the court.

Sch­nei­der­man’s of­fice de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

“As de­tailed in our fil­ing last week, the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice has a sub­stan­tial ba­sis to sus­pect that ExxonMo­bil’s proxy cost anal­y­sis may have been a sham,” said Amy Spi­tal­nick, a spokesper­son for the New York at­tor­ney gen­eral on Fri­day.

“This of­fice takes po­ten­tial mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions to in­vestors very se­ri­ously and it will vig­or­ously seek to en­force this sub­poena.

“We look for­ward to next week’s hear­ing”, she said.

Sch­nei­der­man sought more ma­te­ri­als from the oil pro­ducer as part of an on­go­ing probe that has al­ready re­viewed nearly 3 mil­lion doc­u­ments.

He is ex­am­in­ing whether ExxonMo­bil mis­led the pub­lic about its un­der­stand­ing of the ef­fects of green­house gas emis­sions on the earth’s cli­mate.

The probe has al­ready re­vealed that Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, who un­til De­cem­ber had been chief ex­ec­u­tive of ExxonMo­bil, used a sep­a­rate e-mail ad­dress and an alias, “Wayne Tracker,” to dis­cuss cli­mate change-re­lated is­sues while he was em­ployed at the com­pany.

Tes­ti­mony Sch­nei­der­man made pub­lic on June 2 of­fered more de­tails about how the com­pany han­dled the “Wayne Tracker” ac­count, which was first cre­ated in 2007.

ExxonMo­bil em­ployee Con­nie Fe­in­stein, an in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy man­ager for the oil com­pany, told prose­cu­tors changes in the e-mail pro­gramme ExxonMo­bil used, along with an au­to­matic process that deleted in­ter­nal e-mails after 13 months, may have erased years’ worth of “Wayne Tracker” e-mails.

“We re­alised that the au­to­mated file sweeper had not been disabled for a pe­riod of time as it should have been,” Fe­in­stein said in the April 26 in­ter­view.

Exxon has been fight­ing Sch­nei­der­man’s re­quests for in­for­ma­tion about its cli­mate change poli­cies in both state and fed­eral court, claim­ing it should not have to turn over records be­cause the New York pros­e­cu­tor’s probe is po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

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