Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross shares business interests with the immediate family of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Ross failed to clearly disclose them when he was being confirmed to President Donald Trump's cabinet, NBC News reported.
The billionaire industrialist retains an interest, partially owned by his former investment company, in shipping company Navigator Holdings, according to a trove of newly leaked documents from a Bermuda-based law firm. Navigator has a business relationship with a Russian energy firm controlled by Putin's son-in-law and other members of his inner circle.
The documents indicate that Ross did not reveal the full extent of the holdings he retained as commerce secretary in filings submitted to the government this January for his confirmation.
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Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he was "astonished and appalled" at the links, and that members of Congress who took part in Ross' confirmation hearings had believed Ross divested all of his interests in Navigator and weren't aware of the firm's close ties to Russia.
Ross issued a statement saying he recused himself from any matters regarding transoceanic shipping and noting he works closely with Commerce Department ethics officials. Additionally, his statement said he "has been generally supportive of the Administration's sanctions of Russian" business entities, but it did not address whether Ross informed Congress or the department he was retaining an interest in companies with Russian ties.