Exxon subsidiary did business with Iran under Tillerson: report

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A subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp. did business with Iran while President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of State was a top executive there, according to a new report.

The oil giant also conducted deals with Sudan and Syria during Rex Tillerson’s tenure, USA Today reported Monday. All three nations were under U.S. sanctions as state sponsors of terrorism at the time.

{mosads}The sales were conducted from 2003-2005 by Europe-based firm Infineum, it said, a joint venture with Shell Corp. in which Exxon Mobil owned a 50 percent share.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings unearthed by Democratic research group American Bridge show Infineum had $53.2 million in sales to Iran, $1.1 million in sales to Syria and $600,000 in sales to Sudan during those three years.

Tillerson would not be named chairman and CEO until January 2006 — he became senior vice president at Exxon Mobil in August 2001, the paper reported, before assuming the role of president and director in March 2004.

Exxon Mobil told USA Today the transactions were legal in light of the American sanctions as Infineum was based in Europe and the transactions did not involve U.S. employees. A spokesman also said that the company didn’t disclose the transactions to shareholders at the time, sparking an SEC inquiry, because they represented a tiny fraction of the company’s overall revenue.

“These are all legal activities complying with the sanctions at the time,” Alan Jefferies, Exxon Mobil’s media manager, told USA Today. 

“We didn’t feel that they were material because of the size of the transactions. [Infineum has] an independent management that operates the entity. And it’s not an U.S. entity.”

Tillerson’s business record, particularly his dealings with Russia, are likely to be a main line of questioning from Democrats during his confirmation hearing, which is scheduled to begin Wednesday. Tillerson has stepped down from his CEO post and arranged to cut financial ties with the company. 

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Monday said he is “deeply skeptical about Mr. Tillerson’s actions as CEO of Exxon.”

“Finding loopholes to make lucrative business deals with geo-political adversaries, while showing no clear regard for U.S. national interests, is not a resume builder for a prospective diplomat-in-chief,” he said. “This is one of the many issues I look forward to hearing about during the upcoming confirmation hearings.”

Tags Bob Menendez Business Cabinet Donald Trump Exxon Mobil Corp. Iran oil Politics State Department Sudan Syria

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