DonkeyHotey / Flickr wilbur ross caricature...
DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Donald Trump isn’t the only one whose true net worth is a mystery. It seems exaggerating wealth and using shell games to move and hide money runs in the administration. After making the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans since 2004, Forbes Magazine has uncovered evidence that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has been lying about his net worth for more than a decade. From Forbes:

Fresh off a tour through Thailand, Laos and China, United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr. picked up the phone on a Sunday afternoon in October to discuss something deeply personal: how much money he has. A year earlier, Forbes had listed his net worth at $2.9 billion on The Forbes 400, a number Ross claimed was far too low: He maintained he was closer to $3.7 billion. Now, after examining the financial-disclosure forms he filed after his nomination to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, which showed less than $700 million in assets, Forbes was intent on removing him entirely.

Ross protested, citing trusts for his family that he said he did not have to disclose in federal filings. “You’re apparently not counting those, which are more than $2 billion,” he said. When asked for documentation, the 79-year-old demurred, citing “privacy issues.” Told that Forbes nonetheless planned to remove him from the list for the first time in 13 years, he responded: “As long as you explain that the reason is that assets were put into trust, I’m fine with that.” And when did he make the transfer that allowed him to not disclose over $2 billion? “Between the election and the nomination.”

Maybe the $2 billion is in a safe somewhere with Donald Trump’s evidence that President Obama was not born in Hawaii? After a series of interviews with Ross colleagues, Ross himself, and extensive financial detective work, Forbes found the missing money never existed at all and Ross is a bald-faced liar:

And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed. It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004. In addition to just padding his ego, Ross’ machinations helped bolster his standing in a way that translated into business opportunities. And based on our interviews with ten former employees at Ross’ private equity firm, WL Ross & Co., who all confirmed parts of the same story line, his penchant for misleading extended to colleagues and investors, resulting in millions of dollars in fines, tens of millions refunded to backers and numerous lawsuits. Additionally, according to six U.S. senators, Ross failed to initially mention 19 suits in response to a questionnaire during his confirmation process.

It feels important to note that before becoming a member of Donald Trump’s cabinet, Commerce Secretary Ross was the vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, which was the preferred money-laundering bank of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and all of Putin’s cronies. It’s where they move and hide billions. I wonder if anyone else used the Bank of Cyprus to hide money?

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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