A foolish and expensive law suit should be brought to a quick end.
On October 24, 2018, Barbara Underwood, the Attorney General of New York (NYAG) filed a 91 page complaint against Exxon Mobil Corporation, which in the words of the New York Times headline demonstrated that “New York Sues Exxon Mobil, Saying It Deceived Shareholders of Climate Change.” The elaboration inside the article contained allegations by the prosecutors that Exxon “essentially kept two sets of books when accounting for the effects of climate change” which makes it appear as though the NYAG’s is a cut and dried case of financial fraud for illicit corporate advantage. The asserted bottom line was that the irregularities could cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to shareholders, payable under New York states, aggressive securities law, the 1921 Martin Act, but untold reputational losses for its improper behavior.
The initial impact from reading the Times’ explosive headline is that Exxon Mobil was up to its old tricks of soft-pedaling the risks of climate change regulation in order to prop up the value of its stock. Nothing could be further from the truth, for the history is quite the opposite.