USA says Exxon under Tillerson violated Russian Federation sanctions in 2014

Exxon Mobil has been fined $2 million 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.

ExxonMobil signed eight legal documents related to oil and gas projects in Russia with Igor Sechin, president of Russian oil giant Rosneft, OFAC said.

It also said the company's "senior-most executives knew of Sechin's status" and that the company "caused significant harm to the Ukraine-related sanctions" by engaging in the business agreement with Sechin. Treasury officials said the executive orders made no such distinction.

ExxonMobil must pay a $2m penalty for signing documents for oil and gas projects in Russia, despite United States sanctions imposed after Russian forces seized Crimea in 2014. Exxon said it relied on that guidance when its representatives signed the documents in question.

The documents, which Treasury said Exxon Mobil failed to "voluntarily self-disclose", were related to oil and gas projects in Russian Federation.

"The secretary continues to abide by his ethical commitments, including that recusal from Exxon-related commitments", said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. And, it said the company's "senior-most executives" were aware of the sanctions when two of its subsidiaries signed deals with Russian oil magnate Igor Sechin.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control "is trying to retroactively enforce a new interpretation of an executive order that is inconsistent with the explicit and unambiguous guidance from the White House and Treasury issued before the relevant conduct and still publicly available today", he said. Foreign Policy magazine reported "Sechin's personal assets will be frozen, but Treasury officials said the designation wouldn't impact USA companies' ability to do business with Rosneft because Sechin does not control the firm". "OFAC's action is fundamentally unfair", Exxon said. The Treasury Department named Sechin a subject of those sanctions that April.

OFAC said it considered several aggravating factors when reaching its decision.

The company has long opposed sanctions on Russian Federation. The press release statements provided context for the policy rationale surrounding the targeted approach during the early days of the Ukraine crisis, which was to isolate designated individuals who were targeted as a result of the crisis in Ukraine, rather than imposing blocking sanctions on the large companies that they managed.

The deal came at a time when other oil companies, including BP and Total SA, were clamoring to enter Russian Federation, aiming to tap its vast oil and natural gas reserves.