Conflicts of Interest

Trump’s State Pick Ran a Joint Russian Oil Firm

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Rex Tillerson, the Exxon executive and despot-elect Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state, was the director of a joint Russian oil firm that's registered in the Bahamas according to The Guardian.

Documents released by a German newspaper and shared with The Guardian show Tillerson served as the director of Exxon Neftegas, a Russian subsidiary, beginning in 1998.

Tillerson – the chief executive of ExxonMobil – became a director of the oil company’s Russian subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas, in 1998. His name – RW Tillerson – appears next to other officers who are based at Houston, Texas; Moscow; and Sakhalin, in Russia’s far east.

The leaked 2001 document comes from the corporate registry in the Bahamas. It was one of 1.3m files given to the Germany newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung by an anonymous source.

Tillerson left Neftegas when he became the CEO of Exxon in 2006 according to a company statement, but that obviously doesn't tell us if he still has a financial interest in Neftegas operations.

It's anyone's guess who leaked the documents to Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany's largest subscription newspaper. I will speculate that this could be only the first of many revelations to come as western intelligence agencies push back against Russian influence campaigns.

Our own media here in the United States did a very poor job of covering Trump's extensive conflicts of interest before the election and I'm not so sure we can count on them to do so moving forward even though Hillary Clinton's email server is no longer on their minds. One potential side effect of this could be increasing reliance on foreign media reports for explosive information about our own future president and his cabinet.

I'm sure you can find useful idiots and tools among the fourth estate in every nation, but you may not find as many accomplices to the Putin regime in countries where people still remember the brutality of the Soviet Union.

Exxon insists Neftegas wasn't registered in the Bahamas to dodge taxes. That's the only part of this story that I found funny.

  • MadJuana

    I think you’re correct about the media in the US, JM. I recall that during the run up to Shrub’s adventure in Iraq my partner began looking for English language news sources outside the US, because MSM reportage looked more like propaganda and cheer-leading than actual news. Of course, as the song says, “same as it ever was.” Things have been iffy on reality-based reporting since the first round of Clinton Derangement Syndrome back in the 90s.

  • Georgie
  • muselet

    Steve Benen this morning quotes a WaPo article saying that *ahem* “key supporters” of Tillerson’s nomination—notably including Dick Cheney, George W Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Bob Gates—are applying a great deal of pressure to wavering Rs.

    Extraction industries really, really want Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, despite the obvious conflicts of interest and his manifest unsuitability for the position, and the Rs are pretty much guaranteed to go along.

    I say a lot of negative things about the Rs, but you kind of have to admire their loyalty: once they’re bought, they’re bought.

    Benen did say something I found funny—inadvertently funny, mind—about the whole Tillerson mess, though:

    … ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice to be the nation’s next Secretary of State, poses a challenge. Tillerson has literally no background in diplomacy or public service, and against the backdrop of a scandal involving a Russian espionage operation intended to help put Trump in the White House, it’s problematic that the president-elect chose Vladimir Putin’s closest American ally for Trump’s top cabinet post.

    In a 52-48 Senate, the margin for error is modest. What’s more, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the GOP advantage is just one member – 10 to 9 – giving some Trump critics hope that Tillerson may become the first Secretary of State nominee in history to be derailed on Capitol Hill.

    And if my grandma had wheels, she’d be a trolley car.


  • Aynwrong

    In an indirectly story, US Congressman Dana Roharbacher just openly defended Russian espionage live on national television. Naturally, he’s a Republican.

    • muselet

      Predictable, really.


      • Aynwrong

        I was shocked. I was not surprised.