New York City is urging investors to vote against the re-election of JP Morgan Chase’s lead independent director, Lee Raymond – describing the former ExxonMobil CEO and Chair as “not climate competent”.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer launched the “vote no” campaign yesterday on behalf of three of the City’s five public pension funds, which hold around 2.4 million shares in the US banking heavyweight.
Stringer’s letter to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) states that Raymond — who served as Chair and CEO of ExxonMobil between 1999-2005 – “lacks the impartiality and climate competency required to fulfill his lead independent director responsibilities”.
The octogenarian’s past public record as a “climate change denier” is laid out in the SEC filing, along with his and his family’s alleged “extensive” financial relationships with the fossil fuel industry – including “entities financed” by JP Morgan.
“Given his excessive tenure, past opposition to climate change science and policy, and personal financial interests, Lee Raymond is distinctly ill-equipped to serve in this role”, Stringer states.
Raymond has served on JP Morgan’s board for 33 years and in board leadership roles for 19 years.
Stringer describes the bank as being at a “critical juncture” and highlights its position as the “largest global lender and underwriter to the fossil fuel sector” – an estimated $269bn between 2016-19.
JP Morgan needs a “genuinely independent, qualified director” to ensure that management acts in the best long-term interests of the bank and its shareholders, he adds.
Last month, US campaign group Majority Action made a similar filing to the SEC, describing Raymond’s role as “architect and public face of ExxonMobil’s efforts to promote denial of the risks and likelihood of climate change”.
‘Given his excessive tenure, past opposition to climate change science and policy, and personal financial interests, Lee Raymond is distinctly ill-equipped to serve in this role’ — New York City Comptroller, Scott Stringer
The US non-profit called on investors to vote ‘against’ Raymond and ‘for’ a proposal calling for a split of the chair and CEO roles currently held by Jamie Dimon.
JP Morgan will also face a proposal this year on reducing emissions associated with its lending activities in line with the Paris Agreement.
“With JP Morgan management financing more fossil fuel expansion than any other bank, we need the independent members of the board, led by a genuinely objective and climate-competent lead independent director, to hold management accountable for driving JPMorgan’s energy finance transition”, Comptroller Stringer said.
JP Morgan Chase’s annual meeting will take place on 19 May.