In one way or the other, Guyana has certainly paid the price for its ignorance.
It has paid the price for its failure to conduct due diligence on several companies, for its failure to monitor the operations of entities; for its failure to craft air-tight contracts/agreements which can safeguard the nation against the abusive and greedy nature of some mega-corporations. It has paid for failing to learn from the mistakes of other nations.
With such a wealth of experience in making all the wrong moves for one reason or the other, Guyanese are in their right to ask themselves a most salient question when facing an oil giant like ExxonMobil: CAN THEY BE TRUSTED?
In recent weeks, Kaieteur News embarked on a series of articles which served to enlighten the citizenry on all they need to know about a company with which Guyana is going to sign a life changing contract.
Through detailed research, this publication has presented the facts on how ExxonMobil seems to have a pattern of entering weak nations with non-transparent governments.
All are rich in oil but their people are still no better off today. It was also exposed how ExxonMobil has a history of underpaying royalties in territories it operates. Its own mother country, the United States, was no exception from this type of behaviour.
In this installment Kaieteur News will show how ExxonMobil is now facing several lawsuits, including one for allegedly deceiving its shareholders in the US.
According to www.theguardian.com, (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/31/exxonmobil-climate-change-cost-shareholders )
ExxonMobil was forced to be more frank with its shareholders regarding the effect climate change will have on the operations and profitability of the company.
The report by the Guardian notes that Climate Change poses a real threat to the sustainability and the manner in which ExxonMobil will continue to operate its business in the future. Climate Change, the article notes, is a “material financial threat” for ExxonMobil.
But that is not all. ExxonMobil is currently under investigation by the Offices of the New York Attorney General and Massachusetts for being deceitful about climate change, something the company, of course, has denied.
According to the www.nytimes.com, (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/06/science/exxon-mobil-under-investigation-in-new-york-over-climate-statements.html) , an investigation is being carried out to determine whether the company has been truthful to the public on the issue of climate change or if it deceived its investors about the impact the challenging issue can have on the business.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena to Exxon Mobil, for extensive financial records, emails and other documents that would be helpful to the investigation, the NY Times reported.
The media outlet said, “The investigation focuses on whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks as recently as this year were consistent with the company’s own long-running scientific research.”
“The inquiry would include a period of at least a decade during which ExxonMobil funded outside groups that sought to undermine climate science, even as its in-house scientists were outlining the potential consequences — and uncertainties — to company executives.”
In short, ExxonMobil was actually paying lobbyists to deny the impact of climate change.
ExxonMobil has been accused over the years of funding certain groups and government officials/parties to promote disinformation about the effects of climate change. It has of course denied this to the end, but the media reports on this matter are overwhelming.
The Guardian (www.theguardian.com) is just one media site which has placed this issue in the spotlight. The news entity has reported that ExxonMobil has been funding anti-climate groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec). It based this conclusion on tax records. (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/15/exxon-mobil-gave-millions-climate-denying-lawmakers)
In addition to the aforementioned, civil proceedings have been filed against ExxonMobil by some of its own shareholders who feel deceived by the company regarding the truth about climate change and the toll it will take on the business’s fortunes as most nations are being encouraged to move in the direction of cleaner sources of energy.
According to www.insideclimatenews.org. (https://insideclimatenews.org/news/18112016/exxon-climate-change-research-oil-reserves-stranded-assets-lawsuit), the deception by ExxonMobil led to the investors paying inflated prices for Exxon stock and subjected them to financial losses because the company knew the value of its oil reserves was less than what it was telling investors. This was also noted in the lawsuit which was filed in a Texas federal court this year. (see link for full lawsuit: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3215695-Class-Action-Exxon-Complaint.html) .
In the court action, the plaintiff is calling for compensation for all damages sustained as a result of the defendant’s wrongdoing, in an amount to be proven at trial, including interest thereon.
The plaintiff is of the firm belief that, “During the Class Period, as detailed herein, Defendants made false and misleading statements and engaged in a scheme to deceive the market and a course of conduct that artificially inflated the price of Exxon common stock and operated as a fraud or deceit on Class Period purchasers of Exxon common stock by misrepresenting the value of the Company’s business and prospects by overstating its earnings and concealing the significant defects in its internal controls.”
The lawsuit goes on to state, “As Defendants’ misrepresentations and fraudulent conduct became apparent to the market, the price of Exxon common stock fell precipitously, as the prior artificial inflation came out of the price. As a result of their purchases of Exxon common stock during the Class Period, plaintiff and other members of the class suffered economic loss, i.e, damages, under the Federal Securities Laws.”
Adding to ExxonMobil’s climate change woes, is the fact that even the Security Exchange Council (SEC) has also launched an investigation in an effort to ascertain if the oil king has been completely honest with investors about climate risks and accounting issues concerning its reserves.
With the aforementioned in mind, it would not be irrational for Guyanese to urge Government officials to be wary of the nature of the oil king it is dealing with and to act cautiously.
It would not be unreasonable for Guyanese to urge the Government to monitor the operations of the entity; to craft an air-tight contract/agreement that will safeguard the nation against the abusive and greedy nature of this mega-corporation.
It would not be unreasonable to call on the Government to learn from the painful and irreversible mistakes made by other nations.
Failure to do so, would surely lead the nation into a position where 10 years later, it would be worse off than it is today.
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