Exxon Mobil Corp. (IW 500/1) is suing two Cuban companies for $280 million, saying they benefited for decades from Exxon property seized after Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on May 2, the first day American corporations were allowed to file after the Trump administration lifted a long-standing ban against such actions. The complaint names government conglomerate Corporacion Cimex SA and state-run oil company Union Cuba-Petroleo, known as Cupet, as defendants.
The companies have engaged in “unlawful trafficking in plaintiff’s confiscated property," including hundreds of service stations, storage tanks, a marine terminal and the Ñico Lopez refinery in Havana, according to the suit. Castro’s government claimed the assets in 1960.
The Trump administration last month said it would no longer block a provision of a 1996 U.S. law allowing private lawsuits over property seized on the island. Presidents of both parties had previously waived the measure, fearing a flood of litigation against companies from Europe, Canada and other allies doing business in Cuba.
“The Cuban oil workers say a resounding NO to the demand of Exxon Mobil," Cupet says in a statement on its website. “The oil refineries belong to the Cuban people and nothing and no one can take them."
Messages seeking comment from Cimex weren’t immediately returned. Irving, Texas-based Exxon confirmed the suit and the damages sought but had no further comment.
By Alex Nussbaum