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21 July 2017, 12:09 | Nichole Osborne
Logos of Exxon Mobil are seen in its booth at Gastech the world's biggest expo for the gas industry in Chiba
Investigators said the company engaged in a deal with Igor Sechin, the president of state-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft OAO - one of the oligarchs who faced personal and business sanctions for his support of the Russian economy and the Kremlin's support for the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Exxon's US subsidiaries "dealt in services of an individual whose property and interests in property were blocked", Treasury said in a press release announcing the fines.
ExxonMobil had fully complied with guidance from Democratic former President Barack Obama's administration that ongoing oil and gas business activities with Rosneft were permitted, Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said in a statement.
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 plans to challenge the action.
Treasury stated that "ExxonMobil's senior-most executives knew of Sechin's status as an SDN when they dealt in the blocked services of Sechin".
"OF AC determined that ExxonMobil did not voluntarily self-disclose the violations to OF AC", read the Treasury report, "and that the violations constitute an egregious case".
Tillerson established close relations with Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, while he was CEO of Exxon Mobil. It leveled the statutory maximum civil penal of $2 million for the breaches. The sanctions had exposed Exxon to up to $1bn in losses by the end of 2014, Exxon said.
"Based on the enforcement information published today, OFAC 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", it said.
Exxon stock traded slightly up late in the afternoon. Tillerson has recused himself from any decisions regarding his former employer for his first two years as Secretary, according to the State Department.
"The secretary continues to abide by his ethical commitments, including that recusal from Exxon-related commitments", said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. The State Department declined to comment on Tillerson's role, referring all questions to Exxon.
The company has long opposed sanctions on Russian Federation.
"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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