Wilbur Ross Says There's No 'Evil' in His Business Dealings With Putin-Tied Company

Posted: Nov 07, 2017 8:20 AM

The Paradise Papers have disclosed the world's wealthiest individuals and their business dealings. Included in the 13.4 million records that were released are the financial records of Wilbur Ross, President Trump's commerce secretary. The papers linked Ross to a shipping company called Navigator Holdings, which transported gas for Sibur, an energy company connected to Russian President Putin's son-in-law.

The word "Russia" inevitably teed up a Democratic meltdown.

Sen. Richard Blumethal (D-CT) accused Ross of misleading him, his colleagues, and the American people by being hush hush about his connection to Navigator Holdings.

"Secretary Ross’ financial disclosures are like a Russian nesting doll, with blatant conflicts of interest carefully hidden within seemingly innocuous holding companies," the senator claimed on Sunday.

Ross told the BBC that responses like these are unfair.

Disclosure documents previously filed by Ross show that the commerce secretary holds an investment worth between $2 million and $10 million in partnerships that have a stake in Navigator Holdings

“There’s nothing whatsoever improper about Navigator having a relationship with Sibur,” Ross said in an interview with BBC economics editor Kamal Ahmed. “The fact that [Sibur] happens to be called a Russian company does not mean there’s any evil in it.”

Ross is the latest Trump associate to be accused of having improper ties to Russia. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was recently indicted on charges of money laundering and conspiracy against the United States, while George Papadopolous, a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, was caught lying to the FBI about his contact with Russian officials. 

In their own joint statement Monday, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) used the Paradise Papers disclosure to try and derail the GOP tax reform plan.

“By failing to close the egregious loopholes outlined in the Paradise papers, the Republican plan rewards wealthy billionaires like Secretary Wilbur Ross for dodging taxes, while punishing many in the middle class with new tax hikes," the lawmakers wrote.