Report: Wilbur Ross failed to sell bank shares

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross failed to sell a bank stock holding within the required time frame after his 2017 confirmation and subsequently signed ethics documents indicating the holding had been sold, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity.

Posted: Dec 21, 2018 2:19 PM
Updated: Dec 21, 2018 2:29 PM

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross failed to sell a bank stock holding within the required time frame after his 2017 confirmation and subsequently signed ethics documents indicating the holding had been sold, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity.

Ross continued to hold shares worth up to $15,000 in Florida-based BankUnited until October 2018, though he was required to divest within 90 days of his Senate confirmation in February 2017, according to documents obtained by the nonprofit.

He said in a statement that he thought the stock, which represents a tiny fraction of his net worth, had been sold in May 2017. He said that the previous disclosures in which he indicated he had sold the stock were "based on a mistaken belief that the agent executed my sell order on that date."

In his statement, Ross also said that his October disclosure "corrected an earlier filing."

It's the latest in a string of similar problems for the billionaire investor.

Ross signed a government ethics agreement in November 2017, saying he had completed divestitures. But a month later, he submitted a report saying he had sold stock in his former company Invesco.

In July, the Office of Government Ethics wrote in a letter that Ross' failure to divest certain investments "created the potential for a serious criminal violation."

Ross then issued a statement in response, admitting to "inadvertent errors" in failing to divest assets and saying he'd sell all his stock holdings.

"My investments were complex and included hundreds of items. I self-reported each error, and worked diligently with my department's ethics officials to make sure I avoided any conflicts of interest," he said in his July statement.

As a Cabinet nominee, Ross signed an ethics agreement pledging to sell off most of his financial assets once he was confirmed.

Ross stated on two forms -- a May 2017 transaction report and an annual financial disclosure filed in August 2018 -- that he had divested the BankUnited stock. But he filed a transaction report in October 2018 showing that he continued to own the stock until October 1.

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