By Ernest Scheyder and Emily Flitter
(Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp asked a New York court on Friday to reject another subpoena request from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, arguing the prosecutor’s recent claim to have found evidence Exxon misled investors was false and that he was abusing his investigative powers.
The company said Schneiderman’s allegation it had neglected to estimate the impact of future environmental regulation on new deals was “frivolous” and that no “legitimate law enforcement need” would be served by giving his office more documents.
“For a prosecutor proceeding in good faith, the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing is grounds for closing an investigation, not expanding it,” Exxon wrote in its filing with the court.
Schneiderman’s office denied the allegations.
“As detailed in our filing last week, the Attorney General’s office has a substantial basis to suspect that Exxon’s proxy cost analysis may have been a sham,” said Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for the New York attorney general. “This office takes potential misrepresentations to investors very seriously and will vigorously seek to enforce this subpoena. We look forward to next week’s hearing.”
Schneiderman sought more materials from the oil producer as part of an ongoing probe that has already reviewed nearly 3 million documents. He is examining whether Exxon misled the public about its understanding of the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the earth’s climate.
The probe has already revealed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who until December was chief executive of Exxon, used a separate email address and an alias, “Wayne Tracker,” to discuss climate change-related issues while at the company.
Testimony Schneiderman made public on June 2 offered more details about how the company handled the “Wayne Tracker” account, which was first created in 2007. Exxon employee Connie Feinstein, an information technology manager for the oil company, told prosecutors changes in the email program Exxon used, along with an automatic process that deleted internal emails after 13 months, may have erased years’ worth of “Wayne Tracker” emails.
“We realized that the automated file sweeper had not been disabled for a period of time as it should have been,” Feinstein said in the April 26 interview.
Exxon has been fighting Schneiderman’s requests for information about its climate change policies in both state and federal court, claiming it should not have to turn over records because the New York prosecutor’s probe is politically motivated.
The case is People of the State of New York v PricewaterhouseCoopers and Exxon Mobil Corporation, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 451962/2016.
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder in Houston; Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)