WL Ross
 

PLEASE REFRESH PAGE
To view updates

HOME

God Bless America !

"The best way to fight an enemy is head on- and out in the open."

 

Citigroup Sells Mortgage Rights to Wilbur Ross Unit (Update2)
By Josh Fineman and Bradley Keoun - February 5, 2009 17:27 EST

Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc., the U.S. bank that’s shedding businesses after last year’s record $18.7 billion loss, agreed to sell the billing-and-collections rights on 185,000 mortgages to Wilbur Ross’s American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc.

Citigroup will get $1.5 billion, Irving, Texas-based American Home said in an e-mailed statement. The amount includes rights to mortgage-servicing fees as well as temporary advances Citigroup made to mortgage investors on behalf of delinquent borrowers, the company said. The transaction had no material impact on overall results, said Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for the New York-based bank.

The deal lets Citigroup wind down Citi Residential Lending, a unit formed in September 2007 when the bank bought mortgage-servicing rights on $45 billion of loans from ACC Capital Holdings, parent of the now-shuttered subprime lender Ameriquest Mortgage Co., Rodgers said. The bank consolidated its mortgage operations in early 2008 and decided not to maintain Citi Residential Lending’s separate platform.

“In order to realize cost efficiencies in the current environment, Citi determined that the sale of these rights was a better alternative to retaining them,” Rodgers said in an interview. As of Sept. 30, Citi Residential held servicing rights on about 247,000 loans, compared with about 6 million for Citigroup’s consumer-banking division.

Mortgage-servicing companies get fees for collecting payments from homeowners and dealing with borrowers who fail to pay.

Wilbur Ross

Ross, who heads the WL Ross & Co. buyout firm, made billions turning around distressed steel and textile companies. He bought American Home in October in a bankruptcy auction. It had been a unit of Melville, New York-based American Home Mortgage Investment Corp.

In an interview, Ross said the Citigroup loans that American Home will service have a face value of $37 billion and include subprime and Alt-A mortgages. The deal, which increases the number of loans American Home services by 45 percent to about 575,000, will improve the overall efficiency of the operations, Ross said.

“The loans are a great fit with our existing portfolio,” American Home Chief Executive Officer David Friedman said in a separate statement distributed by on Business Wire.

Citigroup rose 4 cents to $3.53 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares are down 47 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Josh Fineman in New York at jfineman@bloomberg.net; Bradley Keoun in New York at bkeoun@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alec D.B. McCabe at amccabe@bloomberg.net.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a5YDJNuQRxRM

Tanji Dewberry


Wilbur Ross's American Home Mortgage faces servicing lawsuits

Billionaire Wilbur Ross's American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc., facing lawsuits by attorneys general in two states, was sued by a homeowner who accused the firm of using tactics that lead to improper foreclosures.


By Bloomberg News | October 28, 2010

Billionaire Wilbur Ross’s American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc., facing lawsuits by attorneys general in two states, was sued by a homeowner who accused the firm of using tactics that lead to improper foreclosures.
The lawsuit, filed Oct. 25 in federal court in Dallas, seeks class-action status on behalf of homeowners with mortgages serviced by American Home going back to 2006. American Home’s “illegal, unfair and deceptive business practices victimize borrowers” across the U.S., according to the complaint.

American Home “routinely and systematically assesses unwarranted fees against consumers, resulting in premature default that often gives rise to unfair and improper foreclosure proceedings,” according to the complaint.

Banks and loan servicers are under scrutiny for their foreclosure practices following accusations they relied on faulty documentation to foreclose on people’s homes. Attorneys general in all 50 states have launched a coordinated investigation into the issue.

The complaint in Dallas, filed by Kay VanHauen of Sanger, Texas, follows lawsuits by Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general, and Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray. They separately sued American Home, based in Coppell, Texas, for alleged violations of consumer protection laws.

Tim Metz, a spokesman for Wilbur Ross, said yesterday Ross wasn’t available to comment. Metz didn’t return a call for comment today.

Ross, 72, is chief executive officer of WL Ross & Co., a company that specializes in reorganizing distressed companies. He founded the New York-based company in 2000 after overseeing the bankruptcy practice at Rothschild Inc.

Ross Acquisition

WL Ross bought American Home from its bankrupt lender parent in 2008, and later added operations and servicing contracts from H&R Block Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. Servicers collect payments from homeowners, negotiate loan modifications and foreclose on properties when borrowers default.

In an Oct. 23, 2008, interview with Bloomberg Radio, Ross said American Home was the second-largest servicer of subprime mortgages in the U.S. and was “eager” to continue expanding. The company has servicing operations in Irvine, California, Jacksonville, Florida, and Pune, India, according to its website.

In his lawsuit, the Ohio Attorney General said American Home required borrowers to sign loan modifications, forbearance agreements and security-retention agreements that contain “illegal and unfair provisions and are unconscionably one- sided” in the company’s favor. American Home also provided “incompetent, inadequate and inefficient customer service,” lost documents and failed to respond to requests by borrowers for assistance, according to the complaint.

‘Predatory’ Practices

“The acts of some mortgage servicers have gone beyond the point of being negligent — they have become predatory financial practices and in Ohio, they won’t be tolerated,” Cordray said in a statement on Nov. 5, when the lawsuit was filed.

The Texas Attorney General said in his lawsuit that American Home fails to properly credit homeowners for payments made on their mortgages; falsely claims borrowers didn’t make payments in order to justify late fees; and refuses to accept payments allegedly because a borrower is in default, thereby adding more late charges. The result, Abbott said, is to render homeowners in default on their mortgages.

“The cumulative effect of the foregoing acts and practices was to place more homes into foreclosure than there should have been,” Abbott said in the Aug. 30 lawsuit.

American Home is among 30 banks and mortgage companies that Abbott wrote to on Oct. 4, demanding they halt foreclosures in the state until they ensure that foreclosures that relied on faulty documents “will be rectified” and that future foreclosures are done with “legally correct documentation.”

‘Tighter Controls’

American Home has been reviewing its procedures and is placing “tighter controls” on document signing and notarization, according to the attorney general’s office. The company found “a very limited number of cases” in which a person signing a document may not have done so in the presence of a notary, according to the attorney general.

The lawsuit by VanHauen, the Texas homeowner, mirrors allegations made by the attorney general. American Home, she said, misapplied mortgage payments on two loans in September 2008 and improperly assessed fees and other charges. After notifying American Home about the problem, the company refused to correctly apply the payments. It treated the loan as being in default and initiated foreclosure proceedings, according to the complaint.

Insurance Charge

American Home also charged her for a homeowner insurance policy she didn’t need and charged her for property taxes she was paying to the county, according to the complaint. VanHauen proposed that her lawsuit cover homeowners who have similar complaints against American Home.

American Home is facing similar allegations in other lawsuits. In an April lawsuit filed in federal court in Baltimore, Michael and Ingrid Landi of Frederick, Maryland, accused American Home of falsely claiming in October 2009 that they had not made mortgage payments. American Home has asked the court to dismiss the complaint.

In a complaint filed in May in federal court in San Diego, American Home was accused of foreclosing on a home while it was discussing a loan modification with the owner, Kenneth Coplin. Coplin said in his complaint that American Home assured him it didn’t intend to foreclose or sell the property “in an effort to conceal” its intention to “mislead” him and “steal” the property.

The cases are Kay VanHauen v. American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc., 10-02146, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas); State of Texas v. American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc., 2010-3307, District Court of El Paso County, Texas; State of Ohio v. American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc., 09-708888, Court of Common Pleas, Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Michael Landi v. American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc., 10-00921, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland (Baltimore); Kenneth Coplin v. American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc., 3:10-cv-01096, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

https://www.law.com/dailybusinessreview/almID/1202474058915/?slreturn=20171009162039

Wilbur Ross, Billionaire Investor, Is Said to Be Trump’s Commerce Pick

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVISNOV. 24, 2016
Continue reading the main story

Photo
Wilbur Ross met with President-elect Donald J. Trump at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., this week. Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump is expected to select as commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor who became known as the “king of bankruptcy” for buying, restructuring and selling off steel makers and other fading industrial companies, officials on the transition team said on Thursday.

After choosing national security hard-liners for some of his earliest appointments, Mr. Trump is now turning to a group of ultrawealthy conservatives to help steer administration policy.

In addition to Mr. Ross, a generous contributor to his campaign, Mr. Trump is likely to choose Todd Ricketts, a Republican megadonor who is an owner of the Chicago Cubs and whose father founded TD Ameritrade, to be the deputy commerce secretary, the officials said. And on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he would name Betsy DeVos, a school choice activist and Republican fund-raiser, as his education secretary.
Graphic: Donald Trump’s Cabinet is Complete. Here’s the Full List.

Mr. Ross, 78, an economic adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign whose fortune is estimated by Forbes to be $2.9 billion, is aligned with Mr. Trump on trade. He says the United States must free itself from the “bondage” of “bad trade agreements,” and he has advocated threats of steep tariffs on Chinese goods. Mr. Ross, the chairman of the private equity firm WL Ross & Company, has also pressed for cutting the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, from 35 percent, and reducing taxes and regulations on energy companies.
Continue reading the main story
The Trump White House
The historic moments, head-spinning developments and inside-the-White House intrigue.

During the general election, he hosted at least one fund-raiser for Mr. Trump at his home in the Hamptons. There, Mr. Trump, who at the time was pondering his choice for a running mate, turned his deliberations into a party game, soliciting opinions from the donors in attendance.

Mr. Ross also owns a waterfront estate in Palm Beach, Fla., down the road from Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s club, which is expected to be his White House getaway, and where the president-elect was spending Thanksgiving with his family.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Ross would succeed another wealthy campaign donor at the helm of an agency charged with promoting American commercial interests and trade around the world. Penny Pritzker, President Obama’s commerce secretary, is a billionaire entrepreneur who was an early financial backer of Mr. Obama and is an heiress to the Hyatt Hotels fortune.

Unlike Mr. Trump and Mr. Ross, Ms. Pritzker has been a leading proponent of forging new free-trade agreements. One of her top priorities was the completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping 12-nation accord that Mr. Trump has promised to scrap.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/24/us/politics/wilbur-ross-commerce-trump.html

Billionaire Wilbur Ross Is Expected to Be Easily Confirmed as Trump Trade Czar Monday
Reuters
Feb 27, 2017

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross is expected to be easily confirmed as U.S. Commerce Secretary on Monday, clearing President Donald Trump's top trade official to start work on renegotiating trade relationships with China and Mexico.

The vote will insert a major new voice into Trump's economic team, one that strongly influenced his criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement and a now-scrapped Asia-Pacific trade deal.

Ross' nomination is scheduled for a vote on Monday at around 7 p.m. It was advanced by the Senate in a 66-31 procedural vote on Feb. 17, signaling solid support from Democrats.

Part of that support stems from praise that Ross has drawn from the United Steelworkers union for his efforts in restructuring several bankrupt steel companies in the early 2000s, saving numerous plants and thousands of jobs.

But he also has come under criticism from some left-wing groups as another billionaire in a Trump cabinet that claims to be focused on the working class, and for being a "vulture" investor who has eliminated jobs. Reuters reported last month that Ross's companies have shipped some 2,700 jobs overseas since 2004.

The 79-year-old investor will oversee a sprawling agency with nearly 44,000 employees responsible for combating the dumping of imports below cost into U.S. markets, collecting census and critical economic data, weather forecasting, fisheries management, promoting the United States to foreign investors and regulating the export of sensitive technologies.

While Commerce secretaries rarely take the spotlight in Washington, Ross is expected to play an outsize role in pursuing Trump's campaign pledge to slash U.S. trade deficits and bring manufacturing jobs back to America.

Trump has designated Ross to lead the renegotiation of NAFTA with Mexico and Canada, a job that in past administrations would have been left to the U.S. Trade Representative's office.

Ross will join other major players on the economic team, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, director of the White House National Economic Council.

Some experts said Ross could serve as a counterweight to advisers such as Peter Navarro, the University of California-Irvine economics professor who heads Trump's newly created White House National Trade Council. Navarro has advocated a controversial 45% across-the-board tariff on imports from China that Trump threatened during his campaign.

"I expect that Ross will quickly become the administration’s chief trade spokesman, and that Navarro’s influence will be felt indirectly, rather than through public statements or testimony," said Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow and trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

At his confirmation hearing, Ross downplayed chances of a trade war with China, while calling it the "most protectionist" large economy. He vowed to level the playing field for U.S. companies competing with Chinese imports and those trying to do business in China's highly restricted economy.

Ross, estimated by Forbes to be worth $2.9 billion, built his fortune in the late 1990s and early 2000s by investing in distressed companies in steel, coal, textiles and auto parts, restructuring them and often benefiting from tariff protections put in place by the Commerce Department.


http://fortune.com/2017/02/27/billionaire-wilbur-ross-confirmation-commerce-secretary/

A crucial player in President Trump's trade agenda will finally be allowed to get on the field.

The U.S. Senate voted 72-27 on Monday evening to confirm billionaire Wilbur Ross as Trump's commerce secretary.

The green light comes nearly three months after Trump first tapped the famed investor for his cabinet and four weeks after a Senate committee unanimously voted in favor of his nomination.
Powered by SmartAsset.com
SmartAsset.com

But the confirmation vote was not without controversy. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer took to the floor minutes beforehand to protest the White House refusing to release written answers from Ross about the Bank of Cyprus, a bank he is vice chairman of that has links to Russia.

Democrats had demanded Ross explain his connections to Viktor Vekselberg, a Bank of Cyprus shareholder who is described as a friend to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Schumer, who voted against Ross's nomination, said this inquiry was "perfectly reasonable" given how "questions about connections between the Trump administration and Russia have proliferated" in recent days. Schumer called it another example of the Trump administration "abandoning transparency."

Ross has indicated he will step down from the Bank of Cyprus after he takes office.

The White House is expected to hold a swearing-in ceremony for the new commerce secretary on Tuesday prior to Trump's speech to a joint session of Congress.

Ross is expected to be a powerful figure in the Trump administration, leading the way on efforts to renegotiate NAFTA, the controversial trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

The 79-year-old will also be a key voice on other trade matters as well as on Trump's efforts to accelerate economic growth by slashing taxes and ramping up infrastructure spending.

"Much of the administration's trade agenda has been awaiting the confirmation of Ross, who is the tip of the presidential spear on trade matters," Chris Krueger, an analyst at Cowen & Co., wrote in a report on Monday.

Related: 8 reasons Andrew Puzder's nomination flamed out

During his confirmation hearing in mid-January, Ross pushed for taking a tough stance on China, which he called the "most protectionist country of very large countries." The commerce secretary nominee said countries that resort to "malicious" trading tactics should be "severely" punished.

Known as the "King of Bankruptcy," Ross made a fortune by working to resurrect failing companies in the auto, steel and textile industries.

But Ross has also been criticized for shipping jobs overseas at some of those struggling companies, something that Trump has slammed Ford (F), Carrier and others for doing. Ross led an auto parts company that moved jobs to Mexico, while a textile firm he founded opened a cotton plant in Vietnam that would employ 1,500 workers, The New York Times reported.

Ross has defended his job creation record. During the hearing, he said International Automotive Components had "no choice" but to move some jobs to Mexico at the request of a major customer. Ross also said that overall, the auto parts company created more U.S. jobs during this period than it eliminated.

He also said International Textile Group "would have had to shut down far more domestic activities" if it hadn't moved some operations overseas.

"If you add and subtract, we were a very large net creator of jobs" in the U.S., Ross said.

Related: Democrats fear recession, Republicans see a boom

Ross has also sought to ease concerns about whether the White House would try to politicize climate science. Ross pledged in a letter to Democrat Senator Bill Nelson not to censor or intimidate scientists who work at NOAA, the agency housed within the Commerce Department that controls the National Weather Service and conducts research.

To avoid potential conflicts of interest, Ross has pledged to sell most, though not all, of his empire of financial assets once he's confirmed. The billionaire's ethics agreement was complicated by his lengthy investing career and wide array of complex assets.

While Ross will step down from the private equity firm he founded in 1997, he plans to remain a passive investor in nine investment vehicles related to shipping, mortgage lending and real estate financing.
CNNMoney (New York) First published February 27, 2017: 2:37 PM ET

http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/27/investing/wilbur-ross-commerce-secretary-confirmation-senate/index.html

 

 
The Wilbur Ross Scandal Isn’t About Russia, It’s About Corruption

David Dayen

November 8 2017, 5:08 p.m.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently promoted his own agency ethics official, whose job it is to monitor department-wide conduct for ethical lapses. The promotion came just before Ross received scrutiny about his investment in the shipping company Navigator Holdings, which has business ties to Russian oligarchs and members of the Putin family.

The story played in the mainstream press as evidence of further Trump administration ties to Russia, but any billionaire with vast holdings and an interest in the energy industry is likely to have rubbed up against a few oligarchs and Putin cronies. More to the point, Ross’s story is one of an unchecked conflict of interest.

Ross has leaned on the judgments of the Commerce Department’s ethics official, David Maggi, to clear his name after the recent Paradise Papers revelations. Ross explained repeatedly to the media that he publicly disclosed the investment and was cleared to retain the stake by Maggi. Then, his office argued that Ross cannot financially benefit Navigator, because he recuses himself from all matters involving transoceanic shipping vessels, as spokesperson James Rockas told the New York Times and NBC News.

But Maggi was elevated from an alternate designated ethics official to the permanent position sometime after September 5, according to records with the Office of Government Ethics. That means that, after Maggi accepted Ross’s ethics agreement and allowed him to maintain the shipping investment, Ross — who controls hiring for the position — rewarded him with a promotion.

Neither of Ross’s defenses against the charge of corruption hold up under the kind of scrutiny that an independent ethics officer is expected to apply. In the wake of the release of the Paradise Papers, Ross on Tuesday decided to divest the holding, an indication of just how wrong Maggi’s judgment was. The Navigator “disclosure” was buried inside a vaguely named holding company and unknown to the Senate committee who vetted Ross. As for recusal, in May, the commerce secretary personally negotiated a deal to facilitate the transport of American liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to China. Ross touted the deal on CNBC, saying it would open the lucrative Chinese LNG market to American producers and “liberate American energy.” He has cited LNG as a way to reduce America’s trade deficit.

Those deliveries require a vessel carrying the shipment to cross an ocean or, in the common vernacular, “transoceanic shipping.”

Navigator happens to hold “the world’s largest fleet of natural gas carriers” and is well-positioned to transport LNG, particularly out of the United States. In July, Navigator signed an agreement to build an export terminal in Houston for petrochemicals. A member of the Navigator board, Wendy Teramoto, held that position while serving as a part-time adviser to Ross. Teramoto didn’t resign the board seat until July 17 and was then hired as Ross’s chief of staff August 1.

Another firm in which Ross retains an ownership stake, Diamond S Shipping, does significant business with China, and like Navigator, specializes in chartering tankers to oil and gas companies.

None of this should be a surprise. In January, Bloomberg Businessweek reported this nugget:


On the last day of November, President-elect Donald Trump chose Wilbur Ross as his nominee for secretary of Commerce. A few hours later, Ross, a 79-year-old Wall Street multibillionaire, stepped into Gramercy Tavern, a tasteful restaurant for the Manhattan elite, off Park Avenue. A wood-beamed and chandeliered private dining room had been reserved for Navigator Holdings, a liquefied gas shipping company whose biggest investor is Ross’s private equity firm, WL Ross & Co. He and David Butters, Navigator’s chief executive officer, both arrived early. “Your interest is aligned to mine,” Butters recalls Ross saying. “The U.S. economy will grow, and Navigator will be a beneficiary.”


Seal of the United States Department of Commerce

Ross’s direct investments in shipping companies while shaping Trump administration trade policy, which inherently requires transportation of goods, has been cited by ethics experts as representing a clear conflict of interest. The relationship between commerce and shipping is not subtle; the Commerce Department logo has a sailing ship on it.

“Ross negotiates a plan for LNG shipments. How does that not involve transoceanic shipping?” asked Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “How does [Ross] get away with recusal?” The answer could lie in the peculiar circumstances surrounding Ross’s ethics disclosures.

Navigator Holdings is indeed listed on Ross’s financial disclosure form in three different places, as the commerce secretary is quick to point out. However, the Paradise Papers leak gives more context to the nature of that investment, and Navigator’s business relationship with Russian oligarchs. Offshore tax haven entities controlled by Ross and other financiers hold a 31.5 percent stake in Navigator, a stake worth $176 million currently. Ross has estimated the value of his Navigator investment at between $2.05 million and $10.1 million. WL Ross & Co., Ross’s business vehicle, is still listed as Navigator’s largest shareholder.

Forbes magazine alleged Tuesday that Ross lied to them about his net worth, calling into question the veracity of his financial disclosures. But for the purposes of divining whether a conflict of interest exists, the more important document is Ross’s ethics agreement, dated January 15, 2017 and delivered to Maggi, then listed as an “Alternate Designated Agency Ethics Official” with the Commerce Department.

In the agreement, Ross states, “I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter in which I know that I have a financial interest directly and predictably affected.” The only out for this is if Ross obtains a written waiver or exemption allowing him to participate. Rockas, the Commerce Department spokesperson, told the New York Times that “Secretary Ross has never had to seek, nor received, any ethics exemption, and he works closely with Commerce Department ethics officials to ensure the highest ethical standards.”

In Section 10 of the agreement, Ross details the nine rather obscure holding companies in which he retains a financial interest (it is not made clear which holding company the Navigator investment sits inside), and again commits to recusing himself from all matters involving them. Ross writes that “the holdings of these entities are limited to real estate financing and mortgage lending, and transoceanic shipping.” He adds, referring to Maggi directly: “As the senior ethics official for the Department of Commerce, you have advised me that it is not necessary at this time for me to divest the entities identified in this section.”

Maggi signed off on this agreement in January when he was an alternate ethics official. As a listing with the Office of Government Ethics in July shows, the position of Designated Agency Ethics Official, or DAEO, was vacant. Maggi is still described as an alternate in a document signed by Ross on September 5; in that document, Maggi agreed to give Ross a 60-day extension to divest from certain holdings he promised to shed within 180 days of confirmation.

Maggi is now listed at the Office of Government Ethics website as the Commerce Department’s DAEO. Under the law, the head of a federal agency appoints the DAEO, meaning that Ross promoted Maggi into the position sometime in the past two months. Maggi’s office did not respond to a request for the exact date of the promotion or Ross’s role in the process.

The DAEO signs off on any ethics agreements and monitors day-to-day ethics issues within the agency. They would be responsible for issuing waivers for recused officials or providing interpretations allowing those officials to participate in policy matters.

The situation shows the limits of the federal ethics process. Maggi is supposed to be the watchdog for Ross on ethics issues. But after signing off on Ross’s ethics agreement and failing to step in for months as Ross appeared to involve himself in transoceanic shipping matters he was supposed to recuse himself from, Maggi then got a promotion. “The commerce secretary is behaving in a way that’s a prima facie conflict of interest,” said Hauser. “The designated ethics official should rein him in. He hasn’t, and he owes his job to Ross.”

During his confirmation hearings, Ross promised “to be quite scrupulous about recusal and any topic where there is the slightest scintilla of doubt.” He was asked about his investment in Diamond S Shipping, specifically its business dealings with China. Ross refused under questioning from Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., to recuse himself from broader agency functions like oil spill monitoring, instead agreeing to “rely on the monitoring and judgment of the Department’s ethics officials to ensure that I do not participate in any matter about which they advise me that a conflict of interest would arise.”

This is a familiar move for Ross, deferring to ethics officials to sanction his conduct; he said the same thing to Forbes. In this case, it puts the onus on an ethics official who Ross promoted and could remove at his discretion.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., alleged in a statement that Ross’s failure to reveal the full nature of his investment in Navigator “misled me, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the American people.” He likened Ross’s financial statements to “a Russian nesting doll,” with conflicts of interests buried within vague-sounding holding companies. Blumenthal has called for an Inspector General investigation into Ross’s financial holdings.

Related

Tom Barrack, CEO of Colony Capital speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Top Trump Ally Tom Barrack Made a $1.5 Million Loan to Paul Manafort

Mueller: Trump Campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos Hunted for “Dirt” in “Thousands of Emails”

FILE -- Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign manager, in New York, May 4, 2016. A shell company created by Manafort the day he resigned as campaign manager received $13 million in loans from two businesses with ties to Trump, which appear to be part of an effort by Manafort to stave off a personal financial crisis. (Damon Winter/ The New York Times)

Paul Manafort’s Alleged Money-Laundering Scheme Was Exposed Months Ago

Contact the author:
David Dayen
✉david.dayen@​gmail.com

https://theintercept.com/2017/11/08/wilbur-ross-paradise-papers-trump-russia/