BBCI: ExxonMobil fined by United States for Ukraine sanctions violations

Feds fine Exxon $2M for violating Russia sanctions while Tillerson was CEO

"It's time Rex Tillerson step down or be removed", said Gigi Kellett of Corporate Accountability International, following an announcement on Thursday that ExxonMobil will pay $2 million for violating USA sanctions against Russian officials while the now-secretary of state was the company's CEO.

Exxon signed eight legal documents related to oil and gas projects in Russian Federation with Rosneft, a company that US interests are allowed to do business with.

The OFAC filing, however, says the company's "senior-most executives knew" the sanctions barred them from signing deals with Sechin, calling ExxonMobil "a sophisticated and experienced oil and gas company" that routinely navigates USA sanctions and export rules.

Among them were that "Exxon Mobil's senior-most executives knew of Mr Sechin' s status. when they dealt in the blocked services of Sechin".

In its announcement, the Treasury Department said Exxon officials claimed they did not think the sanctions targeted Mr Sechin in his professional role.

During that time, current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was still Exxon's CEO. It noted that Rosneft was not subject to sanctions at the time and maintained it understood transactions with Sechin in his personal capacity as an individual were not covered.

The energy giant's request to return to Russian Federation for oil and gas activities was rejected in April by the Treasury because of existing sanctions. It leveled the statutory maximum civil penal of $2 million for the breaches. A few days later, Tillerson was unambiguous about Exxon's opposition to the sanctions during his company's annual meeting. Igor Sechin, president of Rosneft, had been on the department's List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list (SDN), establishing a clear violation of the sanctions by ExxonMobil. Exxon's suit asks the court to set aside the fine.

The violation, which the Treasury Department announced July 20, occurred in May 2014, just weeks after President Barack Obama announced the sanctions against Moscow for its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula.

Exxon stock traded slightly up late in the afternoon.

Tillerson recused himself from actions by the State Department related to ExxonMobil after he took office in February. The State Department said it wasn't involved in the decision to punish Exxon for violating the sanctions. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters on Thursday that the agency was alerted to the fine on Wednesday.

"The U.S. and European Union sanctions on Russian Federation will remain in place until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered these particular sanctions", Tillerson said earlier this month during a visit to Ukraine.

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