- $2 million penalty against Exxon overturned
- Court concluded that OFAC failed to provide clear notice of violative conduct
- Companies are at risk when acting in context of ambiguous agency guidance
At the end of December 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas vacated a $2 million penalty that the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had imposed against ExxonMobil for alleged violations of U.S. sanctions related to Russia and Ukraine. OFAC is the U.S. government agency that administers most U.S. sanctions.
This matter has been of interest since the penalty was first announced in July 2017 – read our July 2017 blog post detailing the matter. As described below, the district court’s reasoning in vacating the penalty against Exxon is worthy of interest, too.