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  • The Exxon Mobil suit targets Cuban companies, Corporacion Cimex S.A. and Union Cuba-Petroleo.

    The Exxon Mobil suit targets Cuban companies, Corporacion Cimex S.A. and Union Cuba-Petroleo. | Photo: Reuters file

Published 4 May 2019

Exxon Mobil was formed when John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil was ordered - by U.S. supreme court - to dismantle after violating federal anti-trust laws.

U.S. oil and gas company, Exxon Mobil Corp., has filed a federal suit against two Cuban companies after the waiver on Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act was officially lifted by U.S. President Donald Trump on May 2.   

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Exxon Mobil accuses the Cuban entities of “unlawful trafficking in Plaintiff’s confiscated property in violation of Title III of the... Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996,” according to the details of the complaint that was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The multinational’s suit specifically charges that two Cuban companies, Corporacion Cimex S.A. and Union Cuba-Petroleo, used property that was under the ownership of an Exxon predecessor company before the Fidel Castro-led Cuban Revolution.

Cimex has real estate, financial services and logistics operations, according to its website. While, Union Cuba-Petroleo (Cupet) is a state-owned oil company which operates refineries.

Cimex is currently on the U.S. State Department’s restricted list as well as blacklisted, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The company, which has been accused of sovereignty violation and climate change abuses on several occasions, hopes to recover US$280 million in the lawsuit against the Latin American country, an Exxon spokesman disclosed.

“This filing is significant. This is the fifth-largest company in the world using Title III of the Libertad Act to sue a company owned by the government of Cuba,” John Kavulich, president of U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, remarked.

“This provides comfort for other large claimants to sue, will increase fear by companies in other countries from engagement with Cuba due to the reach of Exxon Mobil and is consistent with Exxon Mobil efforts to recover assets in Venezuela and defend themselves in other countries.”

Exxon Mobil was formed as one of the almost three dozen companies that were created when John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil was ordered - by U.S. supreme court - to dismantle after violating federal anti-trust laws.

The U.S. Justice Department’s Foreign Claims Settlement Commission claims that Standard Oil suffered a loss of more than US$71.6 million due to the Revolution.

Exxon is the largest U.S. oil producer.

Two Cuban-American individuals have also used the reinforced policies of Title III to sue cruise operator Carnival Corp.

Cuba denounced the suits and added that Title III violates international law. 

Canada and the European Union as well as several other countries have rejected the United States’s actions and pointed out that Washington has no jurisdiction over their citizens’ activity in Cuba. The groups have also threatened to put the matter before the World Trade Organization and pursue other actions to block the United States.

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