Published: Mon, November 06, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Commerce Sec Wilbur Ross Has Ties to Putin's Son-in-Law

As details emerge about the Paradise Papers, the biggest names to come out of the leaks include Queen Elizabeth II of England, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, former North Atlantic Treaty Organisation supreme commander in Europe Gen Wesley Clark, Queen Noor of Jordan, the founders of Microsoft and Ebay, and music legends Madonna and Bono.

Millions of recently leaked documents revealed that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has significant business ties to a President Vladimir Putin's son-in-law, while Russian Federation funded Facebook and Twitter investments through an associate of Jared Kushner.

The President Donald Trump appointee has been revealed through leaked documents and public filings to have a substantial holding in the shipping company, Navigator, through a maze of offshore investments. The Russian firm is run by Putin's son-in-law Kirill Shamalov and other members of the Russian strongman's inner circle, some of whom have been sanctioned by the United States.

But the documents show that Ross failed to clearly disclose his interests with Putin's immediate family while he was being confirmed for his cabinet position with Trump's administration.

Navigator Holdings earns millions of dollars a year by transporting gas for Russian energy giant Sibur, whose owners include oligarch Gennady Timchenko and Shamalov. In fact, the ICIJ investigation found that several key members of the administration and Trump allies, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were named in the files from the Bermuda-based company. Ross has previously dismissed claims of collusion as "rumour and innuendo". Ross is, so far, the only White House worked directly implicated in the leak.

In Ross's disclosure form, he listed assets he planned to keep and assets he planned to do away with after his confirmation. SIBUR has been handsomely benefitting Navigator: According to financial records, the Russian firm brought in more than $51 million in revenue since 2016.

Daniel Fried, an assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs under George W Bush, said Ross's connection to "cronies of Putin" threatened to undermine USA sanctions against wealthy Russians connected to Putin.

Commerce Department spokesman James Rockas said Ross "never met" Shamalov and has generally supported the Trump administration's sanctions against Russian Federation, according to the ICIJ report. "What is he thinking?"

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