The case of Wilbur Ross’ phantom $2 billion

Forbes reports: Fresh off a tour through Thailand, Laos and China, United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr. picked up the phone on a Sunday afternoon in October to discuss something deeply personal: how much money he has. A year earlier, Forbes had listed his net worth at $2.9 billion on The Forbes 400, a number Ross claimed was far too low: He maintained he was closer to $3.7 billion. Now, after examining the financial-disclosure forms he filed after his nomination to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, which showed less than $700 million in assets, Forbes was intent on removing him entirely.

Ross protested, citing trusts for his family that he said he did not have to disclose in federal filings. “You’re apparently not counting those, which are more than $2 billion,” he said. When asked for documentation, the 79-year-old demurred, citing “privacy issues.” Told that Forbes nonetheless planned to remove him from the list for the first time in 13 years, he responded: “As long as you explain that the reason is that assets were put into trust, I’m fine with that.” And when did he make the transfer that allowed him to not disclose over $2 billion? “Between the election and the nomination.”

So began the mystery of Wilbur Ross’ missing $2 billion. And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed. It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004. In addition to just padding his ego, Ross’ machinations helped bolster his standing in a way that translated into business opportunities. And based on our interviews with ten former employees at Ross’ private equity firm, WL Ross & Co., who all confirmed parts of the same story line, his penchant for misleading extended to colleagues and investors, resulting in millions of dollars in fines, tens of millions refunded to backers and numerous lawsuits. Additionally, according to six U.S. senators, Ross failed to initially mention 19 suits in response to a questionnaire during his confirmation process. [Continue reading…]

Bloomberg reports: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he will “probably not” maintain his stake in a shipping firm that does business with a Russian company with ties to the son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin and an oligarch under U.S. sanctions.

“I’ve been actually selling it anyway, but that isn’t because of this,” Ross said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

Ross said in a government ethics disclosure filed after his nomination that he held an investment worth as much as $10 million in shipping company Navigator Holdings. But news organizations including the New York Times alleged over the weekend he did not disclose that the company’s clients include a Russian energy company called Sibur whose owners include Putin’s son-in-law and the oligarch, who is close to the Kremlin and has been sanctioned by the U.S. government. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Facebooktwittermail

All comments are moderated. Only those that are constructive and relevant will be approved. Name and email address required -- your name will appear publicly while your email address will be kept private. To contact the editor directly, use the contact form (click "contact" at the top of the page).

*