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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross accused of swindling business associates out of more than $120 million

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 8/7/2018
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International Business Times

President Trump’s commerce secretary may have bilked business associates out of more than $120 million and could rank “among the biggest grifters in American history,” according to a report released Tuesday.

An investigation — which included interviews with 21 people who have worked closely with Wilbur Ross in the past — alleges that that the 80-year-old stole “a few million here and a few million there” throughout his career as an investment banker, Forbes reports.

The magazine previously reported that Ross fudged his finances in order to appear on the publication’s elite list of billionaires.

Disclosure forms Ross filed after his nomination by Trump showed he actually had less than $700 million in assets. Forbes removed him from their list last year.

“He’s a pathological liar,” a former colleague told the magazine.

Just two weeks ago, Ross quietly settled a $4 million lawsuit brought by a former employee who alleged Ross stole his interests in a private equity fund and then tried to cover it up with bogus paperwork.

Wilbur Ross wearing a suit and tie © Mark Schiefelbein / AP Similar charges have been leveled against Trump’s economic sidekick in the past. A former vice chairman of Ross's private equity fund, WL Ross & Company, sued the New Jersey native for $20 million in 2005, alleged that he was cut out of his interests.

Another lawsuit alleges that Ross and his firm charged at least $48 million in improper fees on investments.

Others paint a not-so-rosy picture of Ross’ private life, telling the magazine he is a cheapskate who is obsessed with money.

A pair of former colleagues noted that contractors would call Ross’ office saying they had not been paid for jobs at his home and that he took handfuls of Sweet’ N Low packets from a restaurant near his office, so he wouldn’t have to buy some for himself.

A commerce department official called the allegations “petty nonsense” and said Ross does not use sweetener in his coffee.

Ross himself maintained his innocence by telling Forbes he’s never been caught stealing and “the SEC has never initiated any enforcement action against me.”

However, SEC fined his firm $2.3 million in 2016. Ross also argued that one lawsuit filed against him had been dismissed, but he didn’t bother to say that it's being appealed.

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