VEA Chair Robert Monks is quoted in this article about allegations that Exxon suppressed and distorted findings about climate change.
Robert A.G. Monks, the corporate governance advocate who co-founded ValueEdge Advisors and has been involved with Exxon and its governance since the 1980s, has vivid memories of his dealings with Raymond.
In an email to me, Monks recounted a story from the early 1980s, when Monks was a director of the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation. “We were visiting Exxon’s shale project in Parachute Creek, Colorado,” Monks wrote. “They had built a village [and] all of a sudden, they shut down the project. Cost must have been at least $1 billion, but none of this disturbed the compensation system for the principal executives.”
Such situations led Monks to suggest an innovative governance idea to Exxon in 1992: a shareholder committee to oversee the Exxon board.
At one Exxon annual meeting, Monks remembers asking Raymond “what he did that was 16-times more deserving of compensation than Lou Rawls,” Raymond’s predecessor. According to the New York Times, Raymond earned $144,783 a day during his tenure as Exxon’s CEO. A Forbes 2012 listing of the top ten severance packages over the last decade listed Raymond in spot No. 2, just behind General Electric’s Jack Welch. According to the listing, “the controversial former ExxonMobil CEO, who used his executive chair as a platform for espousing his disbelief in global warming, collected $321 million when he stepped down as CEO in 2005.”
After years of shareholder proposals requesting more information on climate risks, accompanied by board recommendations against them, in 2002, Monks and other investors commissioned their own study concerning the liabilities Exxon might incur due to climate change. The study estimated Exxon’s risk at “’more than $100 billion in long-term shareholder value’ through liability for environmental-related damages and litigation costs,” Pensions