Ross’s Stake in Putin-Linked Shipping Firm Raises Ethics Concern – Bloomberg

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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross faces questions about his financial disclosures to Congress and the government after a report that he didn’t disclose business ties to the son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin and an oligarch under U.S. sanctions.

Wilbur Ross

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

A Democratic senator, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, called on the Commerce Department’s inspector general to open an investigation into the matter, which concerns Ross’s ownership stake in a shipping company that did business with a Russian firm.

“In concealing his interest in these shipping companies – and his ongoing financial relationship with Russian oligarchs – Secretary Ross misled me, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the American people,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “Secretary Ross’ financial disclosures are like a Russian nesting doll, with blatant conflicts of interest carefully hidden within seemingly innocuous holding companies.”

It is unclear whether Ross violated federal guidelines for ethics disclosures by not revealing the connections, and he isn’t alleged to have violated any law.

The Commerce Department said in an unattributed statement on Sunday that Ross was unaware who owned the Russian firm and has never met the owners, and that he has recused himself from transoceanic shipping matters.

“Secretary Ross works closely with Commerce Department ethics officials to ensure the highest ethical standards, and is committed to restoring our economy and creating American jobs,” the department said.