Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross did not disclose that he has shared business interests in an energy company with members of Vladimir Putin’s family, according to multiple news sources who obtained a set of documents from a Bermuda law firm which was leaked to a German newspaper over the weekend.
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Ross — a billionaire industrialist — retains an interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings, that was partially owned by his former investment company. One of Navigator’s most important business relationships is with a Russian energy firm controlled, in turn, by Putin’s son-in-law and other members of the Russian president’s inner circle.
Some of the details of Ross’s continuing financial holdings — much of which were not disclosed during his confirmation process — are revealed in a trove of more than 7 million internal documents of Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm, that was leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The documents consist of emails, presentations and other electronic data. These were then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists— a global network that won the Pulitzer Prize this year for its work on the Panama Papers — and its international media partners. NBC News was given access to some of the leaked documents, which the ICIJ calls the “Paradise Papers.”
Partnerships used by Mr. Ross, whose private equity firm has long been the biggest shareholder in Navigator, have a 31 percent stake in the company. Though his personal share of that stake was reduced as he took office in February, he retained an investment in the partnerships valued between $2 million and $10 million, and stood to earn a higher share of profits as a general partner, according to his government ethics disclosure and securities filings.
…In addition to Mr. Ross, the files contain references to other members of the Trump administration, including Gary D. Cohn, the chief economic adviser who was associated with 22 Bermuda entities while an executive at Goldman Sachs, and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, who was a director of a Bermuda-based joint venture with the government of Yemen when he ran Exxon Mobil’s operations there. There is no evidence of illegality in any of their dealings.