United States Secretary Of Commerce Wilbur Ross Is Alleged To Have Grifted Up To $120 Million

Wilbur Ross
Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Images

United States Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, has come under scrutiny once again, this time for allegedly skimming money from funds under his management, stealing funds from partners in his firm with “shady paperwork practices,” and overcharging clients for his services for decades. Ross is no stranger to lawsuits, and has settled quite a few over the course of his career in suits alleging the same type of behavior, according to The New York Daily News. Now, Dan Alexander of Forbes, who has been a constant thorn in Ross’ side, has made the allegation of grifting on a grand scale based on previous lawsuit settlements Ross has made, and conversations with 21 individuals who have accused Ross of some form of theft or financial misappropriation.

Ross found himself under the microscope when Alexander noticed that his financial disclosures turned over when being vetted for the position of Secretary of Commerce, did not match the figures Ross had been publicly claiming to be worth, according to NY Mag. Once it became evident that Ross had been adding hundreds of millions of dollars to his net worth to gain inclusion on Forbes’ billionaire list, Alexander started digging into his history. In the course of his ongoing investigation into Ross, the current allegations came to light.

Currently, Alexander has a column in Forbes, discussing a lawsuit against Ross by his former business partner, David Stroper, which had been winding through the New York court system for three years. In that column, it states that Stroper’s suit alleged that Ross “stole his interests in a private equity fund, transferred them to himself, then tried to cover it up with bogus paperwork.” That suit was for $4 million, and despite Ross suddenly settling it out of court under a web of secrecy and non-disclosure agreements, news of the settlement still made it’s way to the public.

When contacted for a comment on the suit as well as allegations of financial misappropriation of all nature, Ross was not available. Instead, the Department of Commerce released a memo on his behalf stating that all the charges were false, aside from the ones that he had already settled which were old news. Despite that statement, Alexander reported that Ross still has several active lawsuits filed against him by former colleagues alleging that he stole millions from them.

Alexander asserts that when these suits are viewed along with his ethical lapses while in office which include providing false statements regarding divestiture of his foreign holdings, including a company tied to a Russian oligarch that the U.S. government had under sanctions, allegations by employees working on and at his Hamptons house that he failed to pay them, and allegations that he pledged millions to charity that he then never delivered, it would appear that Ross is unfit to serve in his appointed position, and troubling that he failed to disclose any of this when being vetted.

Alexander then went on to sum up his findings in his Forbes column, pointing out that on the surface, it may not seem like much when everything is viewed as an individual case, but as a whole, he alleges Ross is one of the biggest grifters around.

“Over several months, in speaking with 21 people who know Ross, Forbes uncovered a pattern: 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. But all told, these allegations—which sparked lawsuits, reimbursements and an SEC fine—come to more than $120 million. If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history.”