Monthly Archives: July 2017

U.S. says ExxonMobil violated Russia sanctions while Tillerson was CEO

By Damian Paletta and Carol Morello

Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, right, attend a signing ceremony of an agreement between state-controlled Russian oil company Rosneft and Exxon Mobil corporation in 2012. At left is the CEO of Rosneft OAO, Igor Sechin. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti)

The Treasury Department on Thursday said it was fining ExxonMobil $2 million for violating sanctions against Russia by entering into banned business agreements while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson led the company.

Treasury said the improper business dealings came in May 2014, shortly after the U.S. government had sanctioned numerous Russian business executives and companies as part of its response to Russia’s support for violent separatists in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

Treasury officials said one of the Russian executives who was under sanctions at the time was Igor Sechin, 57, president of Rosneft OAO, an energy company partially owned by the Russian government. Rosneft is one of the world’s largest oil companies, and Sechin is a former senior adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin. When Treasury sanctioned Sechin in 2014, it wrote that he “has shown utter loyalty to Vladimir Putin — a key component to his current standing.”

ExxonMobil entered into a business arrangement with him two weeks after the Treasury Department said U.S. companies could no longer do business with him.

In assessing the $2 million fine, Treasury said of the ExxonMobil that “the presidents of its U.S. subsidiaries dealt in services of an individual whose property and interests in property were blocked” by the U.S. government, referring to Sechin.

ExxonMobil, in a statement, called the Treasury Department’s fine “fundamentally unfair” and said that it was following “clear guidance from the White House and Treasury Department” at the time. Just hours after the Treasury Department announced the $2 million fine, ExxonMobil filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department, seeking …read more

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Republicans got ‘most ungentlemanly’ with each other over the budget last night

By Heather Long

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

After a 12-hour slog of deliberations on Wednesday, the House Republican budget looked ready to make it out of committee. It would be a minor victory for Republicans on a day when very little had gone right and the Senate’s Obamacare repeal had gone spectacularly wrong.

Then Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) spoke up, saying he had a “most ungentlemanly” request: “I’d like to offer an amendment.”

This wasn’t supposed to happen. As Sanford himself noted, Republicans had a “gentleman’s agreement” to pass the budget out of committee without any fuss — and without any amendments.

But he broke the deal anyway, another sign of how much disagreement there is in the GOP, even over taxes and spending. It’s a big part of the reason that President Trump is six months into his presidency and has zero major legislative achievements.

Sanford’s amendment would forbid Republicans from enacting the controversial border adjustment tax (BAT), a proposal to tax U.S. importers and give tax breaks to U.S. exporters.

The BAT is supposed to encourage companies to make more stuff in the United States (and hopefully hire more American workers). It would also raise about $1 trillion over the next decade, according to the Tax Foundation, a think tank.

Big retailers are lobbying hard against the BAT, as companies like Walmart that are major importers would be forced to pay the tax, likely passing the added costs on to consumers.

On the flip side, companies that export a lot such as Boeing and Caterpillar like the BAT. So do many small manufacturers who want to see Trump take action to make goods from overseas more expensive. Supporters point out that most other countries, including China, Germany and Canada, have a BAT or something very similar to it.

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), chair …read more

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