ExxonMobil has protested in court the penalty for violation of sanctions against Russia

As reported by Reuters, ExxonMobil appealed the decision of the US authorities fined it $2 million for the transaction with “Rosneft” in the spring of 2014 after the introduction of the sanctions regime. In a statement the company says that this decision is “absolutely unfair”. In this regard, ExxonMobil has appealed to the court of Texas to demand to cancel the fines.

Defendants in the suit were the Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, head in charge of the approval of the division of the U.S. Treasury OFAC John Smith, as well as OFAC itself.

In the oil company indicated that it had acted in full compliance with the instructions of the administration of Barack Obama, who did not forbid joint activities of American companies with “Rosneft”. As pointed out by the press Secretary ExxonMobil Alan Jeffers, from the Russian company with the Americans had indeed signed the documents caught in the sanctions list are Igor Sechin. However, ExxonMobil has entered into an agreement with him personally, namely the head of “Rosneft”.

In ExxonMobil said that the company worked with the Russian company since the end of 1980s and the us government has always supported this activity. Works well in the far East, which had the agreement of 2014, the company was engaged in since the beginning of the 1990s, indicated in the text of the statement of claim.

According to Jeffers, the Ministry of Finance is now trying retroactively to revisit old rules.

While ExxonMobil has quoted the statement of the U.S. Treasury from may 2014, which stated that a US citizen Bob Dudley had the right to work in the Board of Directors of “Rosneft”. Recalling the statement of the state Department, and also reprinted his newspaper the Wall Street Journal and the Times, the company says that Dudley is not allowed to have business with Sechin.

“In may 2014, ExxonMobil and Rosneft signed an agreement on joint activities for the development of seven subsurface sites located in the Kara, Chukchi seas and in the Laptev sea within the framework of the renewal of the strategic cooperation agreement (ExxonMobil share is 33%)”, — stated in the financial statements of ExxonMobil for 2014.

Igor Sechin was included in the sanctions list of the USA 28 April 2014. Agreement ExxonMobil with Rosneft were signed from 14 to 23 may 2014.

In July 2014, OFAC sent a summons to Exxon, in which he notified that the company may have violated the sanctions regime, concluding with “Rosneft” the eight agreements signed by Sechin. While at the time, according to Exxon in the lawsuit, OFAC itself has acknowledged in discussions with lawyers of the company that has not yet come to a conclusion about legality of the signing corporate agreements with the person from the list of SDN, acting as the representative of the company and not as a private person. Exxon argues that in the absence of official clarification from OFAC at the time of signing contracts with Rosneft relied on the interpretation and guidance from the White house and the U.S. Treasury, which were published on their sites or in the American media, citing officials of the Ministry of Finance.

From these documents and reviews that appeared in April-may 2014, followed, Exxon says that Sechin included in the sanctions list as an individual, sanctions should not affect the relationship of American business with “Rosneft” and Americans have the right to interact with Sechin, for example in the Board of Directors of “Rosneft” (as the head of BP Bob Dudley, a US citizen), until that time, Sechin acts as the representative of the company.

In August 2014, after the start of the non-public process with Exxon, OFAC released on the website of the U.S. Treasury in the section “Frequently asked questions” about the sanctions the recommendation of the American companies and citizens to beware of signing agreements with the entities from the SDN list even if the company that such persons represent, is not in the sanctions list.

In 2014, the leader was ExxonMobil Rex Tillerson. Currently he is the US Secretary of state and is responsible for compliance with the sanctions regime against Russia. In the state Department to comment on the fine Thursday refused.

As previously said RBC representative of “Rosneft” Mikhail Leontyev, ExxonMobil is always “very closely approached” to all actions in the framework of the sanctions and harmonize them with sanctions lawyers. “I don’t imagine the action Exxon, which had not been beforehand with sanctions lawyers discussed”, — he added.

Leont’ev points to the fact that Igor Sechin, is included in the sanctions list as an individual, but not as Executive Director, as a representative of the Executive body of Rosneft, the American sanctions lawyers, he could sign the agreement. “He spoke not as an individual in its own interests, and as Executive Director of the company, which committed actions that do not fall under sanctions,” — emphasizes the Leontyev.

“All this was free for three years. As we have repeatedly said, the nature of sanctions and their use of the us services are so arbitrary that this case is simply an illustration”, he added.