Leaked "Paradise Papers" Reveal Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' Russia Ties

Published on 5 Nov 2017, 23:48
Newly leaked documents show that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, President Donald Trump's point man on trade and manufacturing policy, has a stake in a company that does business with a gas producer partly owned by the son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to records obtained by the International Consortium of Journalists, Ross is an investor in Navigator Holdings, a shipping giant that counts Russian gas and petrochemical producer Sibur among its major customers. Putin's son-in-law Kirill Shamalov once owned more than 20% of the company, but now holds a much smaller stake. Commerce Department spokesman James Rockas said Ross "never met" Shamalov and has generally supported the Trump administration's sanctions against Russia, according to the ICIJ report. Rockas added that Ross has withdrawn from matters related to transoceanic shipping vessels and has met the "highest ethical standards." On January 15, Ross submitted a letter to the Department of Commerce detailing the steps he was taking to avoid possible conflicts of interest. As part of that, Ross said he would sever ties with over 80 companies he was linked to and which could have posed a dilemma if he joined the Trump administration. Although Ross divested most of his holdings, he was not entirely transparent about the financial interests he continued to maintain. Ross created two separate lists: one that included the interests he planned to divest, and another that included those he planned to keep. Four out of the nine entities included on the second list were companies based in the Cayman Islands represented by Appleby, the Bermuda-based law firm where most of the "Paradise Papers" were originally housed. The four Cayman Island companies are linked to two other financial entities: WLR Recovery Fund IV DSS AIV L.P., and WLR Recovery Fund V DSS AIV L.P. Both entities were listed in Ross' financial disclosure form prior to his confirmation, but he did not say that he would retain his interests in them. Those two entities, in turn, control nearly a 33% stake in Navigator Holdings.

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