ExxonMobil CEO and fellow businessman Rex Tillerson is Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, but according to new leaked documents, Tillerson is also the director of a U.S.-Russian oil firm located in the Bahamas. The document was leaked to a German newspaper by an anonymous source, The Guardian reports.
According to the documents, Tillerson has held his position at Exxon Neftegas, which is a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, since 1998.
The problem, however, is that this position poses a major conflict of interest for his future duties as Secretary of State. Critics of Tillerson have accused the ExxonMobil CEO of being a little too friendly with Putin, which would be the first conflict of interest, should he assume the position of Secretary of State. In 2013, Putin awarded Tillerson the “Russian Order of Friendship” following a 2011 deal between ExxonMobil and the head of Russian oil company Rosneft, Igor Sechin. But that’s far from the only possible conflict of interest.
ExxonMobil also uses offshore accounts in the Bahamas, and while they may be completely legal, Tillerson would be in direct conflict with Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again” and put the interests of the American people at the forefront of his presidential agenda.
As the world’s largest oil company, Tillerson currently has $200 million in Exxon stock. The company has been interested in acquiring Russia’s oil and gas deposits for some time now, which is another concern critics have voiced.
Tillerson himself seems pretty cozy in his relationship with Russian head of state Vladimir Putin. In 2014 he criticized the U.S. government for its policy on Russia, telling employees at Exxon’s annual meeting that “we do not support sanctions. We always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who they are really harming.”
Many investors have assumed that the Trump administration will get rid of the sanctions, which would allow Exxon to yield profits in the ten billion dollar range.
But many prominent American politicians are skeptical of Tillerson’s nomination, including Sen. John McCain and Sen. Marco Rubio. McCain fears his experience in the oil industry hasn’t adequately prepared him to assume the position of America’s top diplomat. Similarly while Rubio praised Tillerson for being a “respected businessman” he went on to pose “serious concerns” about him becoming Secretary of State as the position must go to “someone who views the world with moral clarity [and who] has a clear sense of America’s interests.”
The leaked documents that exposed Tillerson’s directorship are certainly of little surprise following the massive Panama Papers leak in April, which exposed several companies with offshore accounts.
According to Exxon, the affiliates in the Bahamas were set up out of “simplicity and predictability.” The company went on to state:
‘It is not done to reduce tax in the country where the company operates. Incorporation of a company in the Bahamas does not decrease ExxonMobil’s tax liability in the country where the entity generates its income.’
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