A New York state court on Wednesday ruled that Exxon Mobil and its auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, must comply with the state attorney general’s subpoena for documents as part of the state’s financial fraud investigation.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been investigating whether Exxon withheld information from investors about what the company knew about climate change and how it could impact its business.
The New York attorney general’s office sued Exxon and PwC to force them to comply with the subpoena after Exxon would not allow its auditor to hand over documents, citing a Texas state law regarding accountant-client privilege.
The court ruled on Wednesday that the Texas law does not allow Exxon and PwC to withhold the documents from the New York attorney general.
“We are pleased with the Court’s order and look forward to moving full-steam ahead with our fraud investigation of Exxon,” Schneiderman said in a Wednesday statement following the ruling. “Exxon had no legal basis to interfere with PwC’s production, and I hope that today’s order serves as a wake up call to Exxon that the best thing they can do is cooperate with, rather than resist, our investigation.”
Schneiderman’s investigation into Exxon has come under scrutiny from Republicans on the House Science Committee, who argue that the probe into Exxon is a political witch hunt. The committee has subpoenaed two state attorneys general for their communications with activist groups about Exxon.
Read the court order: