Commerce Dept.: Ross Had No Influence On Company That Dealt With Russians

REUTERS/Mary Turner

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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After NBC News reported that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has an interest in a company that does business with a Kremlin-linked Russian company, Ross’s department said in a statement Sunday that he has no influence on that business relationship.

The report was part of the release of the Paradise Papers, detailing how the super-rich allegedly use the Cayman Islands to avoid paying taxes.

According to records unearthed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Ross has a financial interest in Navigator Holdings, a shipping firm closely connected with the Russian energy industry through its business relations with Sibur. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law owned around 17 percent of that company’s stock until April 2017.

A Commerce Department spokesman told Fox News that Ross has been supportive of sanctions against Russia and, as commerce secretary, has recused himself on decisions or policy relating to oceanic shipping.

The Paradise Papers also revealed that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief fundraiser, Seagrams whiskey heir Stephen Bronfman, allegedly used the Cayman Islands as a tax shield.

Ross failed to disclose the business relationship during his Senate confirmation process.

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, told Fox News, “In concealing his interest in these shipping companies — and his ongoing financial relationship with Russian oligarchs — Wilbur R Secretary Ross’ financial disclosures are like a Russian nesting doll, with blatant conflicts of interest carefully hidden within seemingly innocuous holding companies.”

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