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ExxonMobil answers $2M Treasury fine with lawsuit

By Sam Howard
ExxonMobil answers $2M Treasury fine with lawsuit
ExxonMobil filed a lawsuit against the federal government in response to a $2 million fine against the company for supposedly violating U.S.-imposed sanctions against Russia. File Photo by Katherine Welles/Shutterstock.

July 21 (UPI) -- International oil and gas giant ExxonMobil is pushing back on a fine from the U.S. Treasury Department that stems from purported violations of sanctions against Russia.

The Treasury on Thursday issued a $2 million fine to the Texas-based company for striking a deal three years ago with Russian oligarch Igor Sechin, the president of Moscow oil company Rosneft OAO.

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The United States slapped sanctions against Russian entities and individuals over its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and specifically targeted Sechin for his backing of the country's economy.

ExxonMobil, which was led by current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the time of its dealings with Sechin, responded by saying it would challenge the legality of the $2 million penalty, the company said in a news release.

ExxonMobil said in its U.S. District Court lawsuit that the Treasury Department "seeks to retroactively enforce" an "arbitrary and capricious interpretation" of the U.S. sanctions against Russia.

ExxonMobil called the fine "fundamentally unfair" and "a denial of due process."

The company has argued its relationship with Sechin was not a violation of U.S. sanctions, as their dealings should be considered "personal" business.

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The Treasury's enforcement arm disagreed, saying there is nothing in the language of the sanctions that distinguishes between personal and government business.

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