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Oil Major Lashes Out At New York Despite Key Win In Trial

ExxonMobil may have appeared to score a win when New York dropped two of the four allegations against the oil giant in its much-watched climate change trial, but Exxon would rather have its day in court, according to World Oil.

Exxon’s Monday court filings bash New York Attorney General Letitia James, after New York attempted to drop two of the four claims against Exxon on the last day of its civil trial. Exxon is alleging that New York made those fraud claims merely “to score headlines and political points” over climate change issues.

Hearings in the two-week-long trial of ExxonMobil vs the People of New York ended on November 7 and a judge has yet to rule on the case whether Exxon misled investors about the effects and costs of climate change on its accounting practices and information divulged to investors.

“Exxon in effect erected a Potemkin village to create the illusion that it had fully considered the risks of future climate change regulation and had factored those risks into its business operations,” the prosecution has argued. “As a result of Exxon’s fraud, the company was exposed to far greater risk from climate change regulations than investors were led to believe.”

The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, however, dropped two out of the four claims in the trial in early November. The state dropped in the closing arguments the equitable fraud and common law fraud charges, which incurred the ire of Exxon’s lawyers, who said those

claims should have been dropped earlier, as they did the most reputational damage to the company.

In a court filing this week, as carried by Bloomberg, Exxon said that the two dropped charges were used by New York Attorney General Letitia James “to score headlines and political points.”

Exxon also wants the justice in the case, New York Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager, to rule in favor of the oil giant in the entire case, including the dropped charges, and “set the record straight” after years of ‘ExxonKnew’ comments from the state.

The State of New York “cannot now erase these past four years because its fraud theory was completely debunked at trial,” according to Exxon.

After dropping two of the four allegations, the state of New York is focused on the claim that Exxon has violated the state’s anti-fraud securities law, the Martin Act, by publishing misleading statements about the costs to account for climate change-related risks. In this allegation, the state does not need to prove intent.    

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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