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Nov 05, 2015

ExxonMobil investigated over accusations of misleading investors

Subpoena covers decades of financial projections and data related to climate change

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched an investigation into ExxonMobil to determine whether the company has lied to investors about risks to its business and the oil industry since the 1970s, when its own research revealed climate-changing effects of burning fossil fuels.

Schneiderman subpoenaed the company seeking information dating back to 1977, including financial records, data and other documents related to climate change, the New York Times and other media report, citing people with knowledge of the matter. He is also examining the company’s SEC filings related to the issue.

According to USA Today, also citing a source with knowledge of the matter, the subpoena covers decades of financial projections to determine whether research affected the company’s business decisions but wasn’t disclosed to investors, as well as documents related to the funding of organizations that deny climate change is occurring.

The New York Times reports that the investigation may grow to include other fossil fuel extraction companies. A source close to the matter also tells the paper that Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal producer, has been under investigation for the past two years over whether it properly disclosed risks to investors on issues related to climate change.

The investigation into ExxonMobil comes after an investigative report by the New York Times showed ExxonMobil scientists knew of risks to the climate presented by the burning of fossil fuels and related that information to the board in 1977. In the following decades, the company worked to cast doubt on research showing the effects of fossil fuels on climate, the report said.

‘We unequivocally reject allegations that ExxonMobil suppressed climate change research contained in media reports that are inaccurate distortions of ExxonMobil’s nearly 40-year history of climate research that was conducted publicly in conjunction with the Department of Energy, academics and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,’ the company says in a press statement.