Exxon Mobil Corp. must pay a $2 million fine for showing "reckless disregard" for US sanctions on Russia while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the oil giant's CEO, the Treasury Department said Thursday. Exxon sued the US government to stop the fine. The Treasury said that Exxon violated sanctions when it signed contracts in May 2014 with Russian oil magnate Igor Sechin, chairman of government-owned energy giant Rosneft, the AP reports. The US blacklisted Sechin, Tillerson's longtime business associate, as part of its response to Moscow's actions in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.
The same month that Exxon signed the deals, Tillerson said the company generally opposes sanctions and finds them "ineffective." Exxon maintained it had done nothing wrong. Hours after the fine was announced, the Texas-based company sued Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the government, saying the US had clearly told companies that doing business with Rosneft was allowed—just not with Sechin himself. Tillerson, who has recused himself from matters dealing with his former company, has insisted the sanctions will stay in place until Russia reverses course in Ukraine and gives back Crimea.