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Fraud Probe Uncovers Secret Tillerson Emails on Climate Change

New York’s attorney general says he has tied Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to at least seven years’ worth of messages about climate change that the former ExxonMobil CEO apparently sent from a secret email account.

MANHATTAN (CN) — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed Monday that his fraud investigation of ExxonMobil uncovered a secret email account U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used as CEO.

Detailing its findings in a 4-page letter to the Manhattan Supreme Court, Schneiderman's office said ExxonMobil must be ordered to disclose all of Tillerson's alter egos.

"Specifically, [the Office of the Attorney General] found that Exxon’s former chairman and CEO, Rex Wayne Tillerson, utilized an alias email address on the Exxon system under the pseudonym 'Wayne Tracker' from at least 2008 through 2015,” Assistant Attorney General John Oleske wrote. "Mr. Tillerson used this secondary email address to send and receive materials regarding important matters, including those concerning to the risk-management issues related to climate change that are the focus of OAG’s investigation.”

Wayne is Tillerson’s middle name.

ExxonMobil produced roughly 60 documents from the “Wayne Tracker” account, but Schneiderman says it never disclosed that this had been Tillerson’s account. The email address also did not appear on the company's list of preserved custodial sources or its privilege logs, according to the letter.

Schneiderman’s office says the emails demonstrate ExxonMobil’s attempts to skirt subpoena compliance, despite having promised the court to “move heaven and earth” to do so.

New York’s investigation has been publicly known since Nov. 4, 2015, shortly after Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News published a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles reporting that ExxonMobil scientists privately confirmed the effects of a warming planet as early as the 1970s.

Using its hefty resources as the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company, Texas-based ExxonMobil enlisted think tanks, junk scientists and lobbyists in a misinformation campaign, the articles reported.

Schneiderman’s office is investigating whether this campaign misled shareholders over what risk climate change posed to ExxonMobil's operations.

In a 2014 report, ExxonMobil insisted that it did not need to prepare for a "low carbon scenario" because such a transition would be “highly unlikely," as the cost would be too high for U.S. households.

"Exxon’s top executives, and in particular, Mr. Tillerson, have made multiple representations that are at the center of OAG’s investigation of potentially false or misleading statements to investors and the public in regard to these purported internal safeguards,” the attorney general's March 13 letter says.

Schneiderman wants the oil giant to "identify whether any other relevant Exxon custodians utilized secondary email accounts, and whether Mr. Tillerson utilized any additional email accounts, and if so, whether documents relating to those accounts have been preserved, collected, and/or reviewed for production."

His office asked Judge Barry Ostrager to schedule a compliance conference at the "earliest possible date."

ExxonMobil did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

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