Wilbur Ross: a possible link of corruption around Trump
The Secretary of Commerce of the United States is a potential and powerful link between the Trump administration and Russia, as well as having large sums of money in tax havens.
If you ask any Trump administration or campaign official if he has relations with Russia, his immediate and clear answer will be "No". But as special investigations (known as the Russiagate) progress, a new leak of information reveals that the US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, is a shareholder of companies overseas and has been disobeying the rules of the game.
According to information from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) - through an operation that has reviewed 13.4 million documents from large law firms dedicated to providing offshore services - Ross is a shareholder in 31% of Navigator Holdings, according to the newspaper El Universal.
This company generates millions of dollars each year while "transporting oil and gas for the Russian energy firm Sibur” and two of Sibur's main shareholders face some form of US sanction, according to the BBC.
They are Gennady Timchenko and Leonid Mikhelson.
But the issue is even more complicated: another of the shareholders of the Russian firm is the son-in-law of President Putin, Kirill Shamalov, whose estimate at the firm is 3.9%.
This new connection between the Trump administration and Moscow has raised suspicions about who is really behind the chair in the oval office.
While President Trump has called the accusations "fake news", the president's biographer, David Cay Johnston, told BBC Panorama that, "if it hadn’t been for Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump wouldn’t be in the White House."
Their relationship dates back more than 25 years when Ross orchestrated the bankruptcy agreement and financial reorganization of Trump's Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City during the 1990s.
According to Forbes magazine, the fortune of the Secretary of Commerce is 2,500 million dollars - 68 of which he has received through Navigator Holdings.
The participation of the Russian company Sibur is so important, that in 2013 the Putin government helped build a 700 million dollar port that works as one of the bases of Navigator Holdings, as reported by La Sexta.
But Ross hasn’t only done business with Russian companies related to individuals sanctioned by the US government. The Secretary of Commerce also has Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as his clients in his company, another source of sanctions for the Trump government.
In his defense, the secretary denied having done anything wrong during a statement on Monday. In an interview with the BBC during his visit to London, Ross claimed to have declared his interests before becoming part of the administration in the White House.
“There is nothing wrong with it. The fact that it happens to be called a Russian company doesn’t mean there is any evil in it,” Ross said.
The Democratic caucus in the Senate, however, thinks very differently.
Several senators wrote a letter to Ross demanding that he clarify his connections with Moscow, but there has still been no response from him.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, who is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, said that "this type of investment raised questions about whose interests Ross represents,” the Guardian reported.
In addition, the senator requested that an investigation and a new hearing be held in Congress, “If he fails to present a clear and compelling explanation, he ought to resign,” Blumenthal told MSNBC in an interview.