Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Former Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. Rex W. Tillerson
Former Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. Rex W. Tillerson

Backed by a legal team from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, U.S. Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson laid out his answer this week to critics who claimed his financial ties to Exxon Mobil Corp. would create untenable conflicts of interest if he’s confirmed.

Tillerson, whose confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate is scheduled to start Jan. 11, submitted a nine-page letter on Monday to the State Department’s designated ethics official. In it, Tillerson, the former CEO and chairman of Exxon Mobil, outlined his plans to shed any perceived potential conflicts of interest should he win the job as the nation’s top diplomat.

Tillerson has received counsel in the matter from lawyers at Wilmer, according to a source with knowledge. Firm lawyers either declined to comment or did not return calls to their office for this article. Based on the letter’s contents, one veteran ethics lawyer offered Tillerson a stamp of approval.

“As far as conflicts with Exxon are concerned, Tillerson is [as] clean as a whistle,” concluded Edwin Williamson, of counsel at Sullivan & Cromwell in Washington, D.C., and who previously served as a legal adviser to the State Department.

If confirmed, Tillerson reported that he plans to surrender rights to some $3.9 million in previously earned bonuses. He has also agreed to liquidate his stock holdings in Exxon, placing the proceeds of roughly $185 million in a trust that he will not personally control. Tillerson also agreed to a self-imposed ban from ever returning to the oil and gas industry.

Also on Jan. 3, Exxon filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission a notification to shareholders, known as an 8-K, detailing Tillerson’s departure agreement.

According to Exxon’s SEC filing, if he does return to the industry, he will forfeit the cash value from the stock shares that would have been paid to that trust. Instead, the money would be paid to charities of a designated trustee’s choosing.The oil and gas sphere is not the only domain where Tillerson has promised to cut ties. According to his letter he will relinquish roles he has with the Ford’s Theatre Society, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Boy Scouts of America. He has already resigned from his positions with the Business Roundtable and American Petroleum Institute.

An aide to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has scheduled the hearings for Tillerson, said the nominee is expected to be the only person to testify.

Will there be a lawyer sitting beside Tillerson at the hearing and, if so, who will he or she be?

“This question should be directed to the [Trump] transition,” the Senate committee aide said.

The New York Times reported Saturday that Wilmer also had a role advising Trump’s son-in-law, real estate developer Jared Kushner, on his potential business conflicts.

Contact Miriam Rozen at mrozen@alm.com. On Twitter: @MiriamRozen.

Copyright owned by The National Law Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.  

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at customercare@alm.com

Dig Deeper

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2017 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.