California’s attorney general’s office is reportedly investigating whether Exxon Mobil misled investors and the public about the risks posed to its business by climate change.
A source close to the investigation told the LA Times that California attorney general Kamala D. Harris has launched a probe to determine what Exxon Mobil knew about climate change and what it told its investors about climate data.
Another source familiar with the matter told the paper that the attorney general is “casting a wide net” and looking into a “variety of issues.”
The California attorney general’s office has not commented on the matter yet.
News of the California probe comes just two months after Exxon confirmed that it received a subpoena from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Schneiderman’s office is reportedly seeking emails, financial records and other documents, according to the New York Times.
The New York attorney general’s office began a probe last year to determine if Exxon Mobil misled investors by failing to disclose the potential impact climate change could have on its business.
Exxon Mobil has denied any wrongdoing and has said 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.
“Activists deliberately cherry-picked statements attributed to various company employees to wrongly suggest definitive conclusions were reached decades ago by company researchers,” Exxon’s vice president of public and government affairs Ken Cohen said in October.
New York securities laws do not require prosecutors to demonstrate that a company intended to defraud investors, instead they only have to prove that the copmany withheld or misrepresented information.
The probes were prompted by reports published last year by InsideClimate News and the L.A. Times that allege Exxon utilized data on global warming when making operational decisions while also working to publicly undermine climate change research.
Last month, Exxon Mobil reportedly hired famed attorney Ted Wells to lead the company’s response to the probe.
Wells is best known for serving as the National Football League’s chief investigator during the last year’s “Deflategate” scandal.
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 last March.