Trump’s Secretary of State Nominee May Have Helped Exxon Take Advantage of Bahamas’s Tax Benefits 

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Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil Corporation Rex Tillerson at a meeting in Russia in 2012 with then Prime Minister, now President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Wikimedia
Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil Corporation Rex Tillerson at a meeting in Russia in 2012 with then Prime Minister, now President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Wikimedia

WASHINGTON, D.C — Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil head nominated by President-elect 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 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

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 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,” Exxon spokesman Scott Silvestri said.

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.

The records also show Tillerson’s direct involvement in Exxon’s extensive network of companies based in the Bahamas. ExxonMobil created at least 67 companies based in the Caribbean tax haven that were involved in operations spanning from Russia to Venezuela to Azerbaijan according to the documents from the Bahamas corporate registry, ICIJ reported.

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