Tillerson – the chief executive of ExxonMobil – has been a director of the oil company’s Russian subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas, since 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. The registry is public but details of individual directors are typically incomplete or missing entirely.
Though there is nothing untoward about this directorship, it has not been reported before and is likely to raise fresh questions over Tillerson’s relationship with Russia ahead of a potentially stormy confirmation hearing by the US senate foreign relations committee.
ExxonMobil’s use of offshore regimes – while legal – may also jar with Trump’s avowal to put “America first”.
ExxonMobil is the world’s largest oil company and has for a long time been eyeing Russia’s vast oil and gas deposits. Tillerson currently has Exxon stock worth more than $200m.
Since his nomination, Tillerson’s Russia ties have become a source of bipartisan concern. In 2013, Putin awarded him the Russian Order of Friendship. Tillerson is close to Igor Sechin, the head of Russian state oil company Rosneft and the de facto second most powerful figure inside the Kremlin. A hardliner, Sechin is ex-KGB.
It was put on hold in 2014 after the Obama administration imposed wide-ranging sanctions against Russia. The sanctions were punishment for Putin’s Crimea annexation that spring and Russia’s undercover invasion of eastern Ukraine.