Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil chieftain nominated by Donald Trump to be Secretary of State, was a director of an offshore company in the Bahamas that is at the heart of Exxon’s close business dealings with Russia.
Tillerson was appointed in 1998 as a director of Exxon Neftegas, an ExxonMobil subsidiary involved in oil and gas operations in Russia, according to leaked documents from the Bahamas corporate registry received by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with ICIJ.
Tillerson was named president of Exxon Neftegas in the same year, but his position on the board of the Bahamas-based company has not been previously reported. The Bahamas’ corporate tax rate is zero and it is known for financial secrecy, dubbed by The Economist this year as “the holdout” even among island havens for its reluctance to share tax data.
ExxonMobil said that it incorporates in the Bahamas because of the “simplicity and predictability” of the country’s laws for setting up companies.
“Incorporation of a company in the Bahamas does not decrease ExxonMobil’s tax liability in the country where the entity generates its income,” said Exxon spokesman Scott Silvestri.
The document highlights Tillerson’s business dealings with Russia, which have drawn new attention as he prepares to face confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate. Under Tillerson’s leadership, Exxon Neftegas managed a major oil and gas project near the island of Sakhalin in Russia’s Far East. After Tillerson was promoted to CEO of ExxonMobil, the oil giant launched a partnership to search for new reserves in the Arctic with Rosneft, a Russian state-owned company.