US senators seek investigation into Ross
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.