During secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson’s time as a top ExxonMobil executive, the company reportedly did business with Iran, Syria and Sudan while those countries were considered state sponsors of terror.
USA Today reported Monday that the oil giant had skirted U.S. sanctions against those countries from 2003-2005 by doing business through a European subsidiary, Infineum, in which it owned a 50 percent share.
According to Securities and Exchange Commission filings from 2006 presented to the publication by the Democratic research group American Bridge, Infineum had $53.2 million in sales to Iran, $1.1 million to Syria and $600,000 to Sudan from 2003 through 2005.
Tillerson became executive vice president of ExxonMobil in August 2001. He went on to become president and director in March 2004, and chairman and chief executive in January 2006.
According to the report, the SEC asked ExxonMobil at the time about failing to disclose the transactions with shareholders, given the potential for “impact of corporate activities upon a company’s reputation and share value.”
Richard Gutman, who was ExxonMobil’s assistant general counsel at the time, responded that Infineum’s European affiliates operated “under a policy and procedure consistent with U.S. legal requirements and no United States person is involved in those business transactions.”
He also wrote that, relative to Exxon’s annual revenue, “these transactions are not material by any reasonable measure,” according to the report.
A spokesman for the company gave USA Today a similar response to the SEC filings.
“These are all legal activities complying with the sanctions at the time,” Alan Jeffers, media manager at ExxonMobil, told the newspaper. “We didn’t feel they were material because of the size of the transactions.”