Senators demand inquiry into Trump’s commerce secretary after Paradise Papers leak | News | The Guardian15 Novembre 2017
The disclosures revealed Ross retained an interest in a shipping company that does millions of dollars in business with Sibur, a gas company part-owned by the son-in-law of Vladimir Putin. Photograph: Peter Foley/EPA
theguardian.com – Senators demand inquiry into Trump’s commerce secretary after Paradise Papers leak Watchdog urged to open inquiry into ‘compliance with ethics requirements’ Papers show Wilbur Ross has investments in firm linked to Putin’s son-in-law – Jon Swaine in New York
Democratic senators have asked two government watchdogs to investigate the finances of Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, after his business ties to Vladimir Putin’s family were detailed in the Paradise Papers.
Led by senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Cory Booker of New Jersey, the Democrats formally requested separate inquiries by the government accountability office (GAO) and the commerce department’s inspector general.
They said recent news about Ross called into question the current system of ethics disclosures for government officials, and raised the possibility that new rules were required. “More complete information may be necessary,” they said.
The Guardian and media partners disclosed this month that Ross retained an interest in a shipping company, Navigator, after joining the Trump administration. Navigator does millions of dollars in business each year with Sibur, a Russian gas company part-owned by the son-in-law of Putin, Russia’s president.
Blumenthal and Booker on Tuesday asked the GAO to investigate any commercial ties that Ross has or had with foreign governments and people under US sanctions “that may create a conflict of interest for secretary Ross”.
In a letter to Gene Dorado, who as US comptroller general has authority over the GAO, the senators noted that Ross had the ability to “impact foreign governments” through his role in economic, trade and national security policies.
“Given this important role, secretary Ross’s actions have the potential to affect his offshore investments when those entities have commercial partners with ties to foreign governments,” they wrote.
Separately with four other senators, Blumenthal and Booker formally asked the commerce department’s inspector general to open an inquiry into Ross’s “compliance with ethics requirements” since joining Donald Trump’s cabinet.
The inspector general, Peggy Gustafson, was urged to “examine the veracity” of responses Ross gave to Congress about his finances when he was being confirmed to his position earlier this year.
“Recent news reports about documents known as the ‘Paradise Papers’ reveal Secretary Ross’s extensive, complicated holdings in offshore accounts that lead us to conclude these responses are severely insufficient,” the senators said.
Gustafson was also asked to investigate whether Ross complied with requirements set out in the ethics agreement he signed when joining the government on divesting from his vast range of business holdings.
The senators also asked Gustafson to look into “the adequacy of that agreement”, as well as “the true value of secretary Ross’s personal wealth” and “whether senior department officials have been allowed to serve despite conflicts of interest” with their government positions.
The letter to Gustafson was also signed by Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.
Booker and Blumenthal also asked the GAO to look into the entire system of laws and rules around financial disclosures by government officials. They said the current setup “may not provide enough transparency” for officials with complex financial arrangements such as Ross’s.
During his confirmation process early this year, Ross mentioned stakes in Navigator in his initial disclosure forms. Analysts said it was not made sufficiently clear in a second filing that the Navigator holdings were among the handful of investments that Ross intended to keep even after entering government.
Ross made no mention of Navigator’s partnership with Sibur during the disclosure process. Booker sent a letter to Ross in February asking series of questions about his business ties to Russia. Ross never responded.
Sorgente: Senators demand inquiry into Trump’s commerce secretary after Paradise Papers leak | News | The Guardian