Corruption

Report: Wilbur Ross Still Has Family Interests in Russian and Chinese Firms

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Last fall, Forbes Magazine exposed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's investments in Russian and Chinese firms that he had not previously disclosed to the public.

Following their report, Ross divested from this firms. Or did he?

According to a new report from Forbes, Ross himself eventually divested from those firms, but his immediate family still has interests in each. Moreover, it appears Ross shorted his own stock before Forbes' original report.

To this day, Ross’ family apparently continues to have an interest in these toxic holdings. Rather than dump them all, the commerce secretary sold some of his interests to Goldman Sachs—and, according to Ross himself, put others in a trust for his family members. He continued to deal with China, Russia and others while evidently knowing that his family’s interests were tied to those countries.

In addition, five days before reports surfaced last fall that Ross was connected to cronies of Vladimir Putin through a shipping firm called Navigator Holdings, the secretary of commerce, who likely knew about the reporting, shorted stock in the Kremlin-linked company, positioning himself to make money on the investment when share prices dropped.

All of this is clearly unethical, but Ross may have done something illegal as well.

Ross filed a financial disclosure form that said he had divested from these interests but, at the time of filing the report, he hadn't actually done so yet. He hadn't divested yet because he was still in the process of dumping the stock he shorted. Forbes reports that Ross still had millions invested in multiple firms that he did not dump until a month after filing his disclosure form that claimed he had divested.

To the extent that anyone in Trump's corrupt cabinet is actually vulnerable, Ross is probably near the top of the list.

The hilariously corrupt Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt has held onto his job because the White House and Republicans in Congress approve of what he's doing to the environment (destroying it), but Ross has no such accomplishments under his belt. Recent reporting also tells us Trump has insulted Ross to his face and Ross's last trip to China to negotiate a trade deal clearly ended in failure.

With all of that said, I don't necessarily expect that any of this will lead to Ross's dismissal. Trump still needs a fall guy to blame when his trade war fails.

  • muselet

    To the extent that words like “corrupt” and “unethical” still have some meaning with regard to a member of Donald Trump’s cabinet, Wilbur Ross’s actions certainly are those things, and more. In normal times, such dealings would lead to a shame-faced resignation and robust SEC action, at the very least.

    I agree with you, Ashby: Ross’s job is safe until Trump needs a scapegoat.

    –alopecia

  • David Greenberg

    Be black, steal a loaf of bread, go straight to jail. Steal millions, be governor of Florida or part of trmp’s Cabinet. Is this a great country or what.

  • Aynwrong

    Drain the swamp! Swamp The Drain!
    Drain the swamp! Swamp The Drain!
    Drain the swamp! Swamp The Drain!
    Drain the swamp! Swamp The Drain!
    Drain the swamp! Swamp The Drain!