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Exxon’s Nightmare Finally Over: Not Guilty

Exxon has emerged victorious from its climate change fraud case, according to Bloomberg—a case that the New York Office of Attorney General was desperate to win, claiming that Exxon misled its shareholders over exactly how much climate change would cost the company.

The New York Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager today ruled, however, that Exxon did not mislead its shareholders, ending Exxon’s 4-year long battle.

“The office of the Attorney General failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that ExxonMobil made any material misstatements or omissions about its practices and procedures that misled any reasonable investor,” the judge’s ruling read in part.

The case sought $1.6 billion from the oil giant, claiming that Exxon had used two separate numbers to account for the cost that Exxon would have to pony up because of climate change—one set for the public and one set for its own use. The AG had originally tried to take a swipe at Exxon over even broader charges, claiming that Exxon had covered up the effects of its carbon emissions, but the charges were eventually dialed back.

Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson said on the stand that the case was politically motivated, spurred on by anti-fossil fuel groups.

"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," Exxon said today in a statement on the ruling, adding that the AG had failed to make its case “even with the extremely low threshold of the Martin Act in its favor.”

The Martin Act is a New York state law that is particularly wide ranging, and doesn’t require an Attorney General to prove intent—under the law, the AG didn’t have to prove that Exxon intended to fool shareholders, only that investors were deceived.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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