Wilbur Ross Responds To Accusations He Hid Ties To Putin-Linked Firm

After the latest offshore tax investigative bombshell called the "Paradise Papers" - a sequel to last year's Panama Papers - revealed yesterday that Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had indirect business ties with two Russian oligarchs, as well as Vladimir Putin's son-in-law, the secretary who has found himself in hot water over more alleged backroom deals with Russia, rebutted those claims and told CNBC that he was totally transparent about his holdings, and all pertinent disclosures were made on his version of Form 278, the main financial disclosure form for the executive branch.

"That's totally wrong. It was disclosed on the form 278 which is the financial disclosure form, in my case, three times," Ross said. He also told a reporter that “the fact that (Sibur) happens to be called a Russian company does not mean there’s any evil in it,” Reuters reported. The millions of documents mostly originate from a Bermuda-based legal services provider that works on offshore investments.

"A company not under sanction is just like any other company, period. It was a normal commercial relationship and one that I had nothing to do with the creation of, and do not know the shareholders who were apparently sanctioned at some later point in time," Ross told CNBC.

One of SIBUR's owners is Gennady Timchenko, a Russian billionaire who is considered part of Putin's inner circle, according to NBC. Since 2014, Timchenko has been barred by the Treasury Department from entering the United States, according to the news agency. A second SIBUR owner is another Putin associate, Leonid Mikhelson, whose other company, Novatek, was placed on Treasury sanctions list in 2014, NBC noted. A third shareholder in SIBUR, and its deputy chairman, is Kirill Shamalov, husband of Vladimir Putin's daughter, Katerina Tikhonova, the BBC reported.

Separately, Sibur said on Monday that it had no direct dealings with Wilbur Ross and that its ties to its partners were not in breach of sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis as they've made all necessary checks for any possible sanctions violations and none were found. In a statement, the Russian company  said that in the first half of this year, Sibur spent $15.9 million on services provided by Navigator, or 2.8% of Sibur’s overall expenditure on logistics. It said Navigator was never a sole contractor for shipping Sibur’s petrochemical products.

More from the statement:

All negotiations and meetings were held solely by Sibur management and solely with management of those companies (which were shipping Sibur’s liquefied petroleum gas) and without shareholders’ involvement. In connection with the introduction in 2014 of sanctions with regard to one of the company’s shareholders, our counter-parties conducted all necessary checks into whether there were any restrictions on working with Sibur. No such restrictions were found. Sibur expresses its surprise at the politically-charged interpretation in certain media publications of regular commercial activities, over many years, which from the outset were reflected in the company’s published accounts.

The Paradise Paper leaks revealed Ross has investments in Navigator Holdings, which earns millions a year transporting oil and gas for Sibur. Two major Sibur shareholders have been sanctioned by the US: Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko, who has at least 12 companies connected to him. The Russian natural gas company, Novatek, belonging to Leonid Mikhelson. Another key Sibur shareholder is President Vladimir Putin's son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov, who holds a 3.9% stake in the firm. And while Kirill isn't subject to sanctions, his father, Nikolai, is. The US imposed sanctions on Russia after pro-Russian forces helpd annex Crimea in 2014. Others were imposed in the waning days of the Obama presidency amid mass hysteria surrounding Russia's attempts to allegedly hack the US election - a narrative that is still unfolding.

Initial reports about the Paradise Papers claimed that Ross didn't disclose to Congress the full details of his holdings before he was confirmed in late February. According to the leaks, he retains a financial interest in Navigator Holdings via a number of companies in the Cayman Islands, some of which he did disclose at the time of his confirmation.

For his part, Ross has denied reports that he failed to make the necessary disclosures before Congress.

The ties were disclosed in the so-called "Paradise Papers," a mass of documents leaked to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and reported Sunday. Zeitung, along with the ICIJ and a handful of other newspapers around the globe, helped disseminate reports about the Panama Papers in early 2016 after a reporter at Zeitung was leaked a massive trove of documents from an unnamed source.

Ross dismissed any suggestion that he considered resigning from his position as commerce secretary when the news broke Sunday night. "No, that is a silly question. There is nothing wrong with anything that was done," Ross said.

* * *

Responding to the documents, the U.S. Department of Commerce said in an initial statement Sunday that Ross "was not involved with Navigator's decision to engage in business with SIBUR, a publicly-traded company, which was not under sanction at the time and is not currently."

"Moreover, Secretary Ross has never met the Sibur shareholders referenced in this story and, until now, did not know of their relationship," the statement said, adding: "The Secretary recuses himself from matters focused on transoceanic shipping vessels, but has been supportive of the Administration's sanctions against Russian and other entities."

Read Ross's Form 278 below:

Comments

Looney YUNOSELL Mon, 11/06/2017 - 09:01 Permalink

  Wilbur Ross’ “Russian connection” is a big Bupkisburger, but here’s what’s being omitted… Wilbur Ross owns 31% of Navigator Holdings, Ltd., a public company traded on NYSE as NVGS. Everything is hunky-dory, nothing to see here. But here’s the hilarious part: The company owns 4(four) huge LNG tankers. It buys the Russian LNG in Ust-Luga, Russia, from Sibur Company and transports it to the Port of Antwerp, Belgium. This is how the EU diversifies its gas supplies – instead of buying the Russian gas directly, they use an American company to deliver the same Russian gas at a much higher price. They tout it as Energy Independence and “diversifying” away from the Russian gas. The same shit is going on in Ukraine. The Ukies refuse to buy gas from the Rooskies, so the Russian pipeline crosses Ukraine, Hungary, and Slovenia. Then, it is pumped back, or “reversed”, into Ukraine as “the European gas” at a substantially higher price. I’ve come to expect this dumb shit from the Ukies, but… Et tu, Belgium?   ;-) Looney

In reply to by YUNOSELL

jcaz A Sentinel Mon, 11/06/2017 - 09:11 Permalink

Jeezas,  the Left wants us to believe that this is 1980....I do business with Russia.  Half my block does business with Russia.  They have MONEY.   I work for MONEY.  They want my shit-  I want their money.Wilbur Ross is the smartest money guy in the room-  they're trying to chase him out to weaken Trump.Fuck them.

In reply to by A Sentinel

NeedleDickTheB… Looney Mon, 11/06/2017 - 09:12 Permalink

"It buys the Russian LNG in Ust-Luga, Russia, from Sibur Company and transports it to the Port of Antwerp, Belgium."Not to get too pedantic, but I would assume it's Navigator Holdings' customer who is actually purchasing the Russian LNG in Ust-Luga.  Navigator Holdings is simply acting as the logistics supplier to Sibur and and Navigator receives payment for providing this service.  Represents less than 3% of Navigator's consolidated revenueMinor details at the end of the day and ignored by the mainstream press & pundits because it would destroy their evil Russia narrative.  I think "big Bupkisburger" says it all.

In reply to by Looney

mikesap Looney Mon, 11/06/2017 - 14:20 Permalink

Right...But it's even more ridiculous....The company owns just under 40 gas carriers of different sizes and product lines.  Only 4 of them, (the medium size semi-refs - not even the large LNG's) have long term contracts with Sibur, another big bonafide company...which represents a fraction of their over all business.... and is fairly typical in this business....The people pushing this agenda are either idiots or know exactly what they're doing to continue stirring the narrative and keep the eyeball off the real scandals which are becoming way to numourous to count anymore....

In reply to by Looney

Cardinal Fang Mon, 11/06/2017 - 08:48 Permalink

'Have you stopped beating your wife' is the sort of question one asks a political opponent to put him in a position where there is no correct answer.

Obviously a hit job on Elmer Fudd.

So the modern version is 'When did you stop colluding with the Russians?'

shimmy Mon, 11/06/2017 - 08:51 Permalink

""That's totally wrong. It was disclosed on the form 278 which is the financial disclosure form, in my case, three times," Ross said. He also told a reporter that “the fact that (Sibur) happens to be called a Russian company does not mean there’s any evil in it,” " No Wilbur, everything Russian is evil. It is also wrong to have any business connection (whether direct or indirect) with Russians but getting millions in donations from Russians after you help Russia get some uranium is OK.The silly man just doesn't understand the libtard media rules.

DeeZ_nutZ Mon, 11/06/2017 - 08:52 Permalink

who the fuck is going to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate a special prosecutor when all of the motherfuckers have stakes in russian honeypots?

Mike Masr Mon, 11/06/2017 - 08:53 Permalink

DNC -2017 Revised McCarthyite rulebook: see 3(a) sub paragraph 4(b)   If you, your spouse, or someone in your immediate family conversed with a Russian at a dinner party, ate hors d'oeuvres off the same serving dish as a Russian, or were seated at the same table with a Russian, or Russians, within the last ten years, [and you or your family are connected in some manner to President Trump], your family member/s and you are suspect of being Russian agents, anti-American conspirators and stooges of Vladimir Putin. Please contact Adam Schiff, Al Franken and Lindsay Graham and the committee on anti-American Activities. 

Mike Masr buzzsaw99 Mon, 11/06/2017 - 09:01 Permalink

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Hillary could murder an infant on video, and drink it's blood. Then with video still rolling chop it into pieces and cook it stove top. She could eat it on video with a side of fava beans and a nice chianti and even burp and she wouldn't spend one fucking hour in jail. This dirty, evil, crooked deep-state connected cunt wouldn't even be prosecuted! There is one set of laws for the deep-state and another set of laws for all of us.

In reply to by buzzsaw99

MuffDiver69 Mon, 11/06/2017 - 09:57 Permalink

Latest McCarthyite smear..President Trump has shown the way, just fight back on Fake News and move on. It’s all guilt by any Association now and we’ve yet to see a single shred of evidence the Trump campaign colluded, but of course just being around Trump and knowing Russians is a jailable offense or at the least worthy of trashing by left wing fanatics posing as journalists..

There Mon, 11/06/2017 - 11:25 Permalink

Anyone who servs as direcor or member of 82 Corp boards surley has the time to do the peoples business.We can trust him blindly to NOT put his companies in a blind Trust just like the head of this Klepto regime.

There Mon, 11/06/2017 - 11:34 Permalink

If .... you need to continue to lie about it untill challanged with real evidence.Real Patriots always lie continuously about their affiliations with adversarial countries because they decide if there is anything to hide.

onwisconsinbadger Mon, 11/06/2017 - 12:31 Permalink

Ross is not smart, he is the biggest welfare recipient and had made a living cheating on taxes.in other news : White House Claims Flynn’s Job Was to Make Coffee When Papadopoulos Was Busy.

mr bear Mon, 11/06/2017 - 12:52 Permalink

UPDATE:
Fed Chair Janet Yellin is now alleging that at a dinner held by the Economic Club of New York in 1991, Ross leered at her suggestively, then leaned toward her ear and whispered the word "loins."

Small Governme… Mon, 11/06/2017 - 14:10 Permalink

These contentions by the US media are just another load of their fake news crap.Any person working with President Trump is subjected to the hatred dished out by US media.I refuse to assign any credibility to TV broadcasts originating from the USA.While the US Gov't is corrupt, US media are even more corrupt.  US media presentations in all formats are garbage!