NYAG Forced to Explain Cut and Run “Strategy” on Dropped Charges in Court

Remember when the New York Attorney General’s (NYAG) office surprised everyone during their closing arguments last month during trial when they dropped two of the four charges against ExxonMobil?

Well, tomorrow New York Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager will hear oral arguments on a motion brought by ExxonMobil against the NYAG on their 11th hour decision. The company is arguing that the court should still make a ruling on the charges so that ExxonMobil can clear its name and establish in the record that the NYAG did not present any evidence to prove its fraud charges.

NYAG “show trial” ends with political stunt.  

The NYAG’s office dropped their common law fraud and equitable fraud charges – the two most salacious accusations brought against the company. The NYAG made unfounded accusations in its original complaint against ExxonMobil in an effort to justify these claims, alleging that the company “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” defrauded investors with its disclosures that outlined how the company incorporated climate impacts into its business decisions. Further, the NYAG alleged that “Exxon’s investors suffered damages in connection with purchasing and retaining securities that were the direct and proximate result of Exxon’s fraud.”

After twelve days of trial, however, the NYAG failed to provide any evidence to support these claims. Fearing defeat, the office withdrew these charges to avoid confirming that this case was a politically motivated stunt to malign a company, rather than an evidence-based attempt to redress harmed investors.  As ExxonMobil explained in a post-trial filing,

“[The] NYAG crafted a narrative ready-made for the press, bursting with rhetorical flourishes and righteous indignation. Only one thing was missing: evidence… NYAG’s request to drop those counts speaks volumes about the hollowness of its case.”

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