US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the former vice-chairman of Bank of Cyprus, is being accused of being a grifter, following allegations that he swindled associates out of millions.
A Forbes report, which cited anonymous sources after speaking with nearly two dozen people who know the commerce secretary, said there were claims that Ross “wrongly took millions of dollars for himself on multiple occasions,” to the tune of over €120 million altogether.
The news makes headlines following an out-of-court agreement last month, where Ross and a former associate, private equity manager David Storper, agreed to a confidential settlement.
The two men were heading to court to settle a dispute, after Storper accused his former boss of stealing his interests in a private equity fund and tried to cover it with bogus paperwork, according to Forbes.
Ross maintained stakes in the Bank of Cyprus, which famously became the focus of attention by US special counsel Robert Mueller due to Russian connections
The magazine previously asserted that Ross broke his promise when he told the US Government Ethics federal office that he had divested from business dealings due to a conflict of interest.
But Ross was still maintaining stakes in the Bank of Cyprus, which famously became the focus of attention by US special counsel Robert Mueller due to Russian connections.
The commerce secretary, who served as vice-chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, resigned after he was confirmed in his new position last year.
Even though Ross has not been accused of wrongdoing, his dealings in Cyprus came under a cloud of suspicion following concerns by the Obama administration that the island could be used by Russian entities to bypass Crimea sanctions.
Former US ambassador to Cyprus
The new allegations against Ross for being a grifter remain the focus of many specialised publications, as there are many seperate cases spanning many years of business deadlings that add up to the image on the whole.
The former US Ambassador to Cyprus, John Koenig, told Forbes in 2017 that he did not believe Ross was seeking out deals specifically to favour Russian investors or Moscow.
Koenig served in Nicosia until summer 2015, after Cyprus had gone through a big shock of economic crisis that peaked in 2013 and undoubtedly shook investor confidence.
The former ambassador said there was no interest until Ross came along, while adding there was no reason to look for something sinister.
“This was a high-risk environment and there were not a lot of external investors interested. It’s the kind of situation he specialises in, isn’t it?” Koenig said.
From serious to petty
But Forbes says it recently discovered the commerce secretary told lies numerous times, ranging from extremely serious to even petty issues.
The magazine claimed that Ross and a number of colleagues pocketed millions by keeping more money from fees for themselves instead of giving it back to investors.
Ross vehemently denies the allegations, according to Forbes.
“No regulatory agency has ever asserted such charges or any other charges against me and there is no basis for any such allegations,” Ross said in a statement.
But the report also cites former Ross colleagues who saw the man taking handfuls of sweetener packets from a nearby restaurant so he wouldn’t have to buy them.
An unnamed commerce official told Forbes the sugar packet stories were “petty nonsense,” adding that the secretary does not use sweetener in his coffee.