BBCI: ExxonMobil fined by U.S. for Ukraine sanctions violations

Exxon violated USA sanctions on Russia during May 2014 when it signed eight documents relating to oil and gas projects in Russia with Igor Sechin, the president of Russian state-oil firm Rosneft, Treasury said in an enforcement notice posted to its website.

The fine came after a USA review of deals Exxon signed with top Russian oil producer Rosneft weeks after Washington imposed sanctions on Moscow for annexing Ukraine's Crimea region.

Treasury's enforcement action said that the executive order, its guidance for companies and the administration's public statements "all clearly put ExxonMobil on notice that OFAC would consider executing documents with [people subject to sanctions] to violate the prohibitions in the Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations".

"ExxonMobil demonstrated reckless disregard for US sanctions requirements", the filing says, calling this "an egregious case" and adding, "ExxonMobil caused significant harm to the Ukraine-related sanctions program objectives".

Exxon did not disclose the activities, the Treasury Department said.

A photo posted on Rosneft's website shows Sechin and Duffin smiling broadly and shaking hands at a conference table with documents and a pen in front of them.


Exxon Mobil, whose chief executive at the time is now the USA secretary of state, pushed back strongly, calling the action "fundamentally unfair".

Sechin is the CEO of Russian state oil giant Rosneft and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Treasury Department called the violation an "egregious case" and noted that Exxon "is a sophisticated and experienced oil and gas company that has global operations" and should know better when it comes to US sanctions. Tillerson said in 2014 that the company did not support sanctions because they are not effective "unless they are very well implemented". Sechin is on Treasury's list of "Blocked Persons".

Exxon called the $2 million penalty "fundamentally unfair", saying in a statement that it is "inconsistent with the explicit and unambiguous guidance" issued at the time by the White House and Treasury about the sanctions. Exxon's suit asks the court to set aside the fine. Tillerson visited the White House numerous times as CEO in the immediate aftermath of the sanctions being announced, but they remained in place.

The State Department directed further questions to Treasury and Exxon.

"The secretary continues to abide by his ethical commitments, including that recusal from Exxon-related commitments", said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. Tillerson, "knew of Sechin's status as an SDN (Specially Designated National) when they dealt in the blocked services of Sechin" and that "ExxonMobil is a sophisticated and experienced oil and gas company that has global operations and routinely deals in goods, services, and technology subject to U.S economic sanctions and USA export controls" and therefore should have known better.


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