Read

User menu

Search form

'Among the Biggest Grifters in American History': Wilbur Ross Accused of Stealing More Than $120 Million

'Among the Biggest Grifters in American History': Wilbur Ross Accused of Stealing More Than $120 Million
Fri, 8/10/2018 - by Jake Johnson
This article originally appeared on Common Dreams

As the flagrant and often downright bizarre corruption of so many current and former Trump administration officials has dominated the headlines in recent weeks, White House Commerce Secretary and mega-millionaire Wilbur Ross's long history of crooked profiteering has frequently slipped under the radar.

But a deeply reported investigation published by Forbes on Tuesday—which includes the testimony of more than 20 people who previously worked with Ross in the private sector—alleges that Trump's commerce secretary could "rank among the biggest grifters in American history."

The allegations of Ross's former business associates reach far beyond the ultra-wealthy investor's alleged penchant for stealing "handfuls of Sweet'N Low packets" from restaurants and making fake pledges to charity.

"Many of those who worked directly with him claim that Ross wrongly siphoned or outright stole a few million here and a few million there, huge amounts for most but not necessarily for the commerce secretary. At least if you consider them individually," Forbes notes. "But all told, these allegations—which sparked lawsuits, reimbursements and an SEC fine—come to more than $120 million."

According to David Storper, a private equity manager who worked alongside Ross at the firm WL Ross & Co, claims that Ross "stole his interests in a private equity fund, transferred them to himself, then tried to cover it up with bogus paperwork."

Responding to the Forbes investigation on Twitter, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called Ross "a cartoon stereotype of a Wall Street fat cat with no interest in anyone but himself. He has shady ties to Russia and China, serious business conflicts, and a history of cheating people out of their homes."

Forbes goes on to detail how Ross has been sued repeatedly by his former associates and employees, including Storper, for what effectively amounts to blatant thievery.

"Ross now faces a lineup of allegations from his former colleagues, who say he robbed them of money," Forbes notes. "Such accusations are nothing new for Ross. In 2005, former WL Ross vice chairman Peter Lusk sued the future commerce secretary for $20 million, ultimately alleging that he had tried to cut him out of his interests... Three years ago, Storper launched what became a $4 million lawsuit against both his former employer, WL Ross, and former boss, the commerce secretary, alleging that Ross stole his interests."

While Ross—who is reportedly worth around $700 million—insists that his former business partners simply have a personal "vendetta" against him, Forbes notes that the "the number of similar complaints against Ross" make this claim highly implausible.

"Storper and two other former high-ranking executives at WL Ross filed yet another lawsuit against the commerce secretary in November, alleging that he and his firm charged at least $48 million of improper fees, then pocketed the money," Forbes reports. "It was a slow siphoning rather than a one-time heist, according to the lawsuit."

Ross's corruption and disdain for the truth hardly stopped when he began working in the White House.

"On November 1, 2017, Ross signed a sworn document, attesting that he had divested all the assets he promised he would. That was not true. The commerce secretary in fact still owned somewhere between $10 and $50 million worth of stock in WL Ross's parent company, Invesco," Forbes notes. "Ross sold his shares a month later, banking at least $1.2 million more than he would have if he sold in May, when he initially promised to divest."

Amid accusations that he lied to federal officials about his investments, spokespeople for Ross—who Trump once hailed as a "legendary Wall Street genius"—claimed he didn't realize he owned the stock in Invesco.

As Common Dreams reported, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint in June calling on the Justice Department to investigate whether Ross is guilty of insider trading.

"This disturbing article on Wilbur Ross makes it more believable that he is the type of person who would engage in insider trading," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) wrote of the Forbes story.

As journalist Paul Gottinger noted in response to Forbes's reporting, the fact that Ross will likely never be held to account for his actions throws into sharp relief America's two-tiered justice system, which lets the crimes of the rich slide while hitting the poor and vulnerable with draconian punishments for misdeeds that pale in comparison to those committed by elites.

Originally published by Common Dreams

Sign Up

Article Tabs

Anti-fracking protesters (from left ) Richard Loizou, Richard Roberts and Simon Roscoe Blevins with supporters outside Preston crown court. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Four UK protesters went to court last week to contest what may be Britain's most draconian sentences handed down for peaceful environmental protest since 1932.

gun rights, Florida elections, Parkland massacre, National Rifle Association, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school, youth voters, 2018 midterms

In 2014, less than a quarter of the students at University of Florida voted. Now, “I really do see a shift happening. Many students are eager to vote,” a current student said.

YouTube radicalization, online hate speech, right-wing extremists, internet conspiracy theories, YouTube propaganda, Data & Society Research Institute

Exploring so called “alternative media” on YouTube will make you end up watching white supremacists. Both Google’s greed and the carelessness of mainstream conservatives are to blame.

act out 180

The purge is here. Facebook, Twitter and the silencing of anything that goes against the state. Next up, women's health and rights are under attack.

Gender Recognition Act, transgender, transmen, transmen, self-ID

The British government this week is weighing controversial changes to the existing Gender Recognition Act, asking the public whether they believe trans people should be allowed to “self-ID.”

Anti-fracking protesters (from left ) Richard Loizou, Richard Roberts and Simon Roscoe Blevins with supporters outside Preston crown court. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Four UK protesters went to court last week to contest what may be Britain's most draconian sentences handed down for peaceful environmental protest since 1932.

Hotel restaurant server, Agustin Medina Soto, leads the rally on Saturday, October 20, 2018. (Davíd Rodríguez/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Since Oct. 4, over 2,500 employees at SF's seven Marriott locations joined a national strike of 7,700 workers walking off the job in Boston,Oahu, Maui, San Diego, Oakland, San Jose and Detroit.

gun rights, Florida elections, Parkland massacre, National Rifle Association, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school, youth voters, 2018 midterms

In 2014, less than a quarter of the students at University of Florida voted. Now, “I really do see a shift happening. Many students are eager to vote,” a current student said.

"This study in PNAS is a real wake-up call—a clarion call—that the phenomenon could be much, much bigger, and across many more ecosystems," David Wagner, an invertebrate conservation expert at the University of Connecticut. (Photo: Alias 0591/Flickr/cc)

The human-caused climate crisis has sparked a global "bugpocalypse" that will only continue to accelerate in the absence of systemic action to curb planetary warming.

YouTube radicalization, online hate speech, right-wing extremists, internet conspiracy theories, YouTube propaganda, Data & Society Research Institute

Exploring so called “alternative media” on YouTube will make you end up watching white supremacists. Both Google’s greed and the carelessness of mainstream conservatives are to blame.

voter restrictions, voter ID, voter purges, Crosscheck

On Monday, the Palast Investigative Fund announced it was releasing the names of 90,000 Nevada residents purged from the voter rolls based on flawed evidence that indicates they have moved.

Posted 6 days 17 hours ago
For Freedoms, 50 State Initiative, billboard art, political art, 2018 elections, Donald Trump

The artists and founders involved with 50 State Initiative, a crowdfunded project to erect politically charged billboards, talk about their motivations.

Posted 6 days 17 hours ago
act out 180

The purge is here. Facebook, Twitter and the silencing of anything that goes against the state. Next up, women's health and rights are under attack.

Posted 5 days 18 hours ago
Gender Recognition Act, transgender, transmen, transmen, self-ID

The British government this week is weighing controversial changes to the existing Gender Recognition Act, asking the public whether they believe trans people should be allowed to “self-ID.”

Posted 6 days 17 hours ago
YouTube radicalization, online hate speech, right-wing extremists, internet conspiracy theories, YouTube propaganda, Data & Society Research Institute

Exploring so called “alternative media” on YouTube will make you end up watching white supremacists. Both Google’s greed and the carelessness of mainstream conservatives are to blame.

Posted 4 days 18 hours ago
voter restrictions, voter ID, voter purges, Crosscheck

On Monday, the Palast Investigative Fund announced it was releasing the names of 90,000 Nevada residents purged from the voter rolls based on flawed evidence that indicates they have moved.

YouTube radicalization, online hate speech, right-wing extremists, internet conspiracy theories, YouTube propaganda, Data & Society Research Institute

Exploring so called “alternative media” on YouTube will make you end up watching white supremacists. Both Google’s greed and the carelessness of mainstream conservatives are to blame.

People gathered in Toronto to watch the “bud drop” at the stroke of midnight, in celebration of the legalization on Wednesday of recreational cannabis use in Canada.CreditIan Willms/Getty Images

Canada on Wednesday became the first major world economy to legalize recreational marijuana, beginning a national experiment that will alter the country’s social, cultural and economic fabric, and present the nation with its biggest public policy challenge in decades.

universal home health care, healthcare legislation, Maine People’s Alliance

The Maine People’s Alliance, a grassroots organization, collected 67,000 signatures to get a measure on the November ballot that would provide home health care to all Maine residents.

act out 180

The purge is here. Facebook, Twitter and the silencing of anything that goes against the state. Next up, women's health and rights are under attack.