Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Exxon Loses Bid to Keep Auditor Files Secret in Climate Fraud Investigation

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was Exxon's CEO from 2006 to 2016. A subpoena of records held by Exxon's auditor targets 2010 to the present. (Credit: Brian Harkin/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Brushing aside objections by ExxonMobil, New York's highest court has opened the door for state officials to demand that the oil giant's outside auditor immediately turn over records as part of a fraud investigation into the company's positions on climate change.

In a one-sentence rebuff, the court refused to hear arguments by Exxon that the advice of the firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), was protected by an auditor-client privilege.

The documents in question could provide a candid, and potentially damaging, glimpse into Exxon's private calculations of the business risks posed by climate change and whether its auditors had any concerns about how it disclosed those risks to investors.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been investigating the company for more than two years, said the ruling affirms his position that Exxon and PwC have an obligation to produce the documents subpoenaed last year.

"As we've said from the start, Exxon had no legal basis to interfere with PwC's production" of those documents, Schneiderman said in a prepared statement.  A lower court had ruled against Exxon, which then appealed.  "Our fraud investigation continues to move full speed ahead, despite Exxon's continued strategy of delay," Schneiderman said.

Read more at Exxon Loses Bid to Keep Auditor Files Secret in Climate Fraud Investigation

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