Attorney Ted Wells. Image courtesy of DueProcessTV/Youtube.

ExxonMobil has reportedly hired famed attorney Ted Wells to lead the company’s response to a probe into whether it misled investors about the potential impact climate change could have on its business.

According to Reuters, the company has hired Wells, co-chair of litigation at co-chair of the litigation department at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rikfind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, along with Michele Hirshman, a former deputy New York attorney general and currently a partner at Paul Weiss.

Neither Wells, Hirhsman nor the law firm have commented on the matter.

Wells is best known for serving as the National Football League’s chief investigator during the “Deflategate” scandal earlier this year.

He has also represented Exxon in environmental defense matters, including a $225 million settlement the company reached with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in March, Reuters said.

The high-profile hire is in response to a probe launched last year by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that is investigating whether the company misled investors by failing to disclose the potential impact climate change could have on its business.

Last month, Schneiderman issued a subpoena to Exxon seeking emails, financial records and other documents.

The company confirmed that it received the subpoena and added that it has included information about the business risk of climate change for many years in its 10-K, Corporate Citizenship Report and in other reports to shareholders.

A source told the New York Times in November that the investigation began about a year ago and may include information dating back to the 1970s.

News of the probe came just weeks after InsideClimate News and the L.A. Times published investigations that allege Exxon utilized data on global warming when making operational decisions while also working to publicly undermine climate change research.

Exxon has denied any wrongdoing and defended its record on climate change, noting that it has an active research program into lower-carbon emission technologies, such as algae and cellulosic-based biofuels, and has supported a revenue-neutral carbon tax since 2009.

“Activists deliberately cherry-picked statements attributed to various company employees to wrongly suggest definitive conclusions were reached decades ago by company researchers. These activists took those statements out of context and ignored other readily available statements demonstrating that our researchers recognized the developing nature of climate science at the time which, in fact, mirrored global understanding,” Exxon’s vice president of public and government affairs Ken Cohen said in October.

California representatives Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Walnut Creek) wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch in October asking the Justice Department to assess whether the firm failed to disclose “truthful information” about climate change.

The congressmen also asked the DOJ to determine if Exxon violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO.

The DOJ has not commented on the matter yet.


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