— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 5, 2017
Wilbur Ross employed an aide at Commerce who was *simultaneously* a board member at Kremlin-linked company. https://t.co/JbtdKVthOU
— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) November 7, 2017
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) November 7, 2017
Wilbur Ross seems to have been involved in many embarrassing, potentially criminal enterprises. Yet — continuing the trope that nobody who gets near Donald Trump comes away unwounded — the one revelation that he probably finds most embarrassing is the proprietors of the Forbes 400 list calling him a mere hundred-millionaire, with not even a single billion to his name!
Dan Alexander, Forbes, on “The Case Of Wilbur Ross’ Phantom $2 Billion”:
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….
… Ross’ questionable assertions to Forbes, combined with a recent controversy about a multimillion-dollar stake in a shipping company that does big business with close associates of Vladimir Putin, paint a clearer picture of the commerce secretary’s tactics. His slippery statements during his confirmation hearings–“I intend to be quite scrupulous about recusal and any topic where there is the slightest scintilla of doubt”–came as no surprise to those who have known Ross for decades…
Twenty-six years before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, Wilbur Ross disappeared. It was 1990, corporate America was sick on junk bonds, and Ross was a top bankruptcy negotiator. But one November day, he failed to show up at an important meeting to brief bondholders in a furniture company’s bankruptcy. They didn’t know where he had gone.
Until they went home and turned on the television. There was Ross, with Donald Trump, announcing a deal to recapitalize Trump’s Taj Mahal casino, which was then careening toward bankruptcy. They were technically adversaries, with Ross representing one group of bondholders–at one point Trump asked them to fire Ross after he dismissed a Trump proposal to keep 100% of his equity, saying, “It’s too early for Christmas.” But Ross eventually brokered a deal among Trump, debt holder Carl Icahn and Ross’ own clients that allowed Trump to keep a 50% stake. “I think [Ross] is very talented, a fantastic negotiator,” Trump said at the time…
Wilbur Ross told Forbes he has 480 characters.
— Anthony De Rosa ?? (@Anthony) November 7, 2017
Only 48 of the co-owned with members of Putin’s family. https://t.co/WKN6e8abvT
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) November 7, 2017
If you’re at all tempted to feel sorry for an old man with outsized ambitions, remember, this is Wilbur Ross…
Wilbur Ross touts the lack of protests in Saudi Arabia during Trump's visit (maybe it's because protesters are jailed & sometimes beheaded?) pic.twitter.com/DQIENgtopz
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) May 22, 2017