Does Wilbur Ross look like a grifter to you? pic.twitter.com/4gDbZDtMHU— Marie Connor (@thistallawkgirl) August 7, 2018
President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross might soon be remembered as one of “the biggest grifters in American history,” according to a detailed report published by Forbes.
The publication lists the several theft claims involving small amounts tied to Ross that add up to more than $120 million. For the report, the magazine spoke with 21 people closely associated with Ross and who formerly ran his private-equity company, WL Ross & Co., over the years.
“If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history.” https://t.co/MtwFvWCqhQ— Tim O'Brien (@TimOBrien) August 7, 2018
According to these former associates, Ross’ firm would reportedly charge investors improper and extra management fees, even if the investment didn’t meet expectations. The firm would also reportedly fail to cover the required minimum percentage of fees associated with other deals.
Overall, the former executives claim that extra fees added up to $48 million, allowing Ross to pocket the money.
Over the years, former employees and partners filed several lawsuits against Ross, some of which remain active. In 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fined Ross’ firm $2.3 million for improperly collecting $10.4 million in fees from investors between 2001 and 2011. Still, in a statement to Forbes, Ross claimed that the allegations are all based on lies.
“The SEC has never initiated any enforcement action against me,” Ross told reporters.
“No regulatory agency has ever asserted such charges or any other charges against me, and there is no basis for any such allegations,” he added.
Despite his denial, those who have been in business with him describe him as a man who puts money before anything.
“He’ll push the edge of truthfulness and use whatever power he has to grab assets,” New York financier Asher Edelman told Forbes.
One of Ross’ former colleagues even called him a “pathological liar.”
The fact Ross is still the U.S. Commerce Secretary despite these damning allegations is not the only thing about this story that is concerning. What’s worse is that Ross is just one out of many individuals picked by Trump who have long been associated with shady deals, even while in office.
The allegations stacked against his former secretaries even forced the administration to break its ties with former Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
As Forbes noted, the issue with Ross’ lawsuits and the several accusations of improper dealings paint a very negative picture of a “public servant who can’t tell the truth,” one of his former colleagues told the publication.
In a court filing, Ross’ former right-hand man, David Storper, put it in even better terms.
“Lying on an ethics disclosure form, to Congressional and Senate committees, and falsely reporting compliance with an ethics plan, is neither ‘commonplace’ nor part of the accepted rough-and-tumble world of politics,” he argued. “They are just lies.”
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria