Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Concealed Investment Ties to Putin Associates

Brendan Mc Dermid  Reuters

Brendan Mc Dermid Reuters

The newspaper, in turn, shared these documents with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is doing business with a close relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin and failed to disclose their relationship while being confirmed for his Cabinet spot, documents showed Sunday.

Ross previously vowed to cut ties with more 80 financial entities that he has interests in, a move that won him praise from Republicans and Democrats.

The revelations about Bronfman could spell trouble for Trudeau, who was elected two years ago riding on the coattails of promises to reduce economic inequality and tax avoidance.

There is nothing illegal in the investments and no suggestion that the Queen is not paying tax, but questions may be asked about whether the monarch should be investing offshore.

The 79-year-old reduced his stake when he took public office, according to public filings.

The documents known as the "Paradise Papers" show Ross retains an interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings, which has business ties to, Sibur, a Russian energy firm controlled by Gennady Timchenko, a Russian oligarch subject to USA sanctions, as well as Putin's son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov, and other members of the Russian president's inner circle.

The US imposed sanctions on Russian entities and individuals following its annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine. Although Ross divested a number of holdings, he chose to keep his stake in Navigator. His wealth, estimated to exceed $2 billion, is said to be tied to similar arrangements in various tax havens like the Cayman Islands. However, responding to the release on the papers to the ICIJ, a spokesman for Mr Ross did not dispute the release, but said that the Commerce Secretary never met Mr Putin's son-in-law or Sibur's other owners and that he was not on the board of Navigator when it initiated its relationship with Sibur.

Navigator has been paid $68 million by Sibur since 2014, which is when the United States and European Union impose sanctions on Russian Federation for Putin's aggression in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

NBC also used the documents to report on Ross's investments.

There were small investments in the rent-to-buy retailer BrightHouse, which has been accused of exploiting the poor, and the Threshers chain of off-licences, which later went bust owing £17.5m in tax and costing nearly 6,000 people their jobs.

"We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds", she added. All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate.

The spokeswoman added that one of the fund investments represents only 0.3 percent of the total value of the Duchy.

The Paradise Papers documents include almost 7 million loan agreements, financial statements, emails, trust deeds and other paperwork over almost 50 years from inside Appleby, a prestigious offshore law firm with offices in Bermuda and beyond.

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