(Adds details from hearing, background, other email cases)
By Karen Freifeld
NEW YORK, March 22 (Reuters) - A New York state judge on Wednesday ordered ExxonMobil Corp to work with New York’s attorney general to recover lost emails from an account once used by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he was the oil company’s chief executive.
Justice Barry Ostrager of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan also ordered Exxon by March 31 to turn over documents from its management committee that had been subpoenaed by Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general.
Schneiderman had issued the subpoena in November, in connection with his probe into whether Exxon misled investors and the public about climate change.
At a court hearing on Wednesday, a lawyer for the attorney general said Exxon had just made a “bombshell” revelation that it had lost a year of emails from an account that Tillerson had used, but under the alias “Wayne Tracker.”
Tillerson used the alias account to send and receive information about climate change and other matters, Schneiderman said in a March 13 letter to the court.
Schneiderman said Exxon failed to disclose the “Wayne Tracker” account, and that it had been uncovered during the review of other materials.
The letter also said Exxon had produced 60 documents bearing the “Wayne Tracker” email, but had not said the account was Tillerson‘s.
Exxon responded that the account was proper, enabling Tillerson to communicate easily with other Exxon officials, and set up because of the flood of email that Tillerson already received.
It has also said it does not consider the lost emails significant, and that copies of many would already have been turned over to the attorney general.
In December, Tillerson left Exxon, where he had also been chairman, and stepped down as chairman of the American Petroleum Institute trade group.
The discovery of Tillerson’s account came after disclosures that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current Vice President Mike Pence, when he was Indiana’s governor, had used previously undisclosed accounts to send and receive mail electronically. (Editing by Anthony Lin and Matthew Lewis)