US sen­a­tors seek in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Ross

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - John Swaine New York

Demo­cratic sen­a­tors have for­mally asked an in­ter­nal watch­dog at the US com­merce depart­ment to in­ves­ti­gate sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross fol­low­ing dis­clo­sures about his fi­nances in the Par­adise Pa­pers. A group of six sen­a­tors, led by Richard Blu­men­thal of Connecticut, asked the depart­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral, Peggy Gustafson, to open an in­quiry into Ross’s “com­pli­ance with ethics re­quire­ments” since join­ing Don­ald Trump’s cab­i­net. Gustafson was urged to “ex­am­ine the ve­rac­ity” of re­sponses Ross gave to Congress about his fi­nances. “Re­cent news re­ports about doc­u­ments known as the Par­adise Pa­pers re­veal sec­re­tary Ross’s ex­ten­sive, com­pli­cated hold­ings in off­shore ac­counts,” the sen­a­tors said. The Guardian and me­dia part­ners re­vealed this month that af­ter join­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, Ross re­tained an in­ter­est in a ship­ping com­pany, Nav­i­ga­tor, that does mil­lions of dol­lars in busi­ness with Sibur, a Rus­sian gas com­pany part-owned by the son-in-law of the Rus­sian pres­i­dent, Vladimir Putin.

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 was signed by Blu­men­thal along with Mag­gie Has­san of New Hamp­shire, Cory Booker of New Jer­sey, Maria Cantwell of Wash­ing­ton, Tammy Bald­win of Wis­con­sin, and Tammy Duck­worth of Illi­nois.

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