According to leaked documents provided to Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung and then shared with the Center for Public Integrity, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to serve as Secretary of State is a director of an off-shore firm involved in oil and gas operations in Russia.
The documents, given by an anonymous source, reveal that ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has been a director of the oil company’s Russian subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas, since 1998 — based in the corporate tax-haven of the Bahamas.
While it was known that Tillerson was named president of Exxon Neftegas that same year, his position as a director on a board with other members based in Moscow and in Sakhalin was not previously known.
According to the documents, Exxon Neftegas managed a major oil and gas project near the island of Sakhalin in Russia’s Far East. Following Tillerson’s promotion to CEO, ExxonMobil began a partnership with Russian state-owned company Rosneft to expand oil exploration.
Companies base their operation in the Bahamas due to a corporate tax rate of zero and its reluctance to share financial information and tax data.
Tillerson’s close ties to President Vladimir Putin have caused consternation on both sides of the aisle, particularly in light of the Russian strongman’s bestowing of the Russian Order of Friendship upon the oil executive in 2013, following the completion of a deal between ExxonMobil and Rosneft to increase oil exploration in the Kara Sea.
Tillerson’s participation as a director in the tax-ducking Exxon Neftegas flies in the face of President-elect Donald Trump’s call for American executives to bring their business home.