Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s former employee ExxonMobile wants to resume a drilling agreement with the Russian oil and gas giant Rosneft despite the sanctions levied against Russia by the Obama administration.
Exxon-Rosneft Deal Could Spark Major Conflict of Interest
Exxon has recently applied for a waiver from the sanctions to be able to continue the joint venture, and the Trump White House will have a final say in the matter. The timing sparks serious concerns about what may be the most notable conflict of interest involving the new administration, and Trump’s ties to the Russian government.
In 2012, Exxon and Rosneft reached an offshore drilling agreement in the Black Sea which was supposed to bring $500 billion in annual revenues. When the deal was signed, Tillerson was Exxon’s chief executive, while Rosneft was under the direct control of Russia president Vladimir Putin and his administration.
Reportedly, Putin and Tillerson have a close relationship stemming from the days Exxon and the Russian government struck other similar deals. In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine and the United States imposed some sanctions against Russia to punish Moscow.
The sanctions have put on hold any bilateral trade relations ever since. Tillerson’s and Rosneft’s multi-billion-dollar agreement was also put on hold, but Exxon is now asking for Trump’s permission to resume the extremely lucrative venture.
Tillerson now serves as the country’s top diplomat even though his foreign policy experience includes only its past global oil-drilling deals. What’s more, Tillerson has an extensive experience in striking deals with the Russian government – an ability shared by many of his colleagues in Trump’s inner circle.
Since Trump’s inauguration, many have wondered what exactly Tillerson is doing at the State Department since his boss has trimmed the department’s workforce bringing no replacements and ruthlessly slashed its budget while Tillerson hardly made one or two public statements.
Some speculate that he is too content with his old company’s $180 million severance package to complain.
Exxon’s Application to Be Reviewed by Official with Ukrainian Ties
Exxon submitted the recent application to the Treasury Department, which is now run by Steven Mnuchin. Trump picked Mnuchin to fill the position for his experience in running one of the most aggressive foreclosure mills during the 2008 Financial Crisis- OneWest.
Mnuchin virtually enriched himself by betting on market failure. He reportedly owns a small Hollywood production company and he is in talks with Ukrainian billionaire investor Len Blavatnik to launch a joint venture. So, it is unclear how objective Mnuchin would be in reviewing Exxon’s request.
According to multiple intelligence reports, Russia was directly interested in helping Trump win the presidency. Last year, government-sponsored Russian hackers broke into DNC’s servers and published the findings on the hacktivist website WikiLeaks. Rumors have it that Russia also has a compromising dossier on our president, and the Russian agents who leaked information to the British spy that compiled it died mysteriously.
This may explain why Trump has populated his Cabinet with people connected to the Exxon-Rosneft deal, which greatly benefits the Russian government.
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