Wilbur Ross Giving Young Whippersnappers Masterclass In Being A Robber
Word to the wise, kids: DO NOT FUCK WITH FORBES! Just ask Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who convinced a Forbes magazine reporter that he was a real life billionaire 15 years ago so they'd let him on the Forbes 400 list. Ross leveraged the notoriety that came with inclusion on the prestigious Vulture Capitalists Roundup to get gullible rich people to hand him even more money, until pretty soon he really was a billionaire. Of course by then he'd convinced Forbes (which should have known better!) that he was a multi-billionaire. But the charade continued for another decade until Trump tapped Ross to be Commerce Secretary, forcing him to fill out a public financial disclosure.
After some initial fuckery where Ross claimed to have magically given $2 billion to his kids without leaving a paper trail, Ross was forced to admit -- sort of -- that the $2 billion never existed, and he'd been inflating his income for 15 years. Ooopsie!
Forbes was righteously pissed, and since then reporter Dan Alexander has been so far up Ross's ass he can see the Secretary's dentures. When Ross told "fibs" on his financial disclosure claiming he'd sold all his stocks before taking office, Alexander was there with his calculator to tally the $1.2 million dollars Ross netted by delaying the sale. When Ross held on to stocks "in companies co-owned by the Chinese government, a shipping firm tied to Vladimir Putin's inner circle, [and] a Cypriot bank reportedly caught up in the Robert Mueller investigation," Alexander was there to spread the word. When Ross shorted stock in that Kremlin-linked company days before the Forbes story went public, well, you know.
Yesterday Alexander published a brand new story on all the cool stuff Ross picked up and put in his pocket over the past 30 years, from millions of dollars in other people's stock to fistfuls of pink Sweet'N Low packets. Alexander estimates the total at $120 million -- which is A LOT OF GODDAMN SWEET'N LOW!
It is difficult to imagine the possibility that a man like Ross, who Forbes estimates is worth some $700 million, might steal a few million from one of his business partners. Unless you have heard enough stories about Ross. Two former WL Ross colleagues remember the commerce secretary taking handfuls of Sweet'N Low packets from a nearby restaurant, so he didn't have to go out and buy some for himself. One says workers at his house in the Hamptons used to call the office, claiming Ross had not paid them for their work. Another two people said Ross once pledged $1 million to a charity, then never paid.
To which the Secretary's representative responded, NUH UH HE TAKES HIS COFFEE BLACK! Game, set, and match!
Wilbur Ross is an ethical paragon, just ask the people who've done business with him.
Those who've done business with Ross generally tell a consistent story, of a man obsessed with money and untethered to facts. "He'll push the edge of truthfulness and use whatever power he has to grab assets," says New York financier Asher Edelman. One of Ross' former colleagues is more direct: "He's a pathological liar."
Ross has been sued by multiple former employees and business partners, entering into confidential settlements totaling more than $10 million. And Alexander reports that Invesco, parent company of WL Ross, paid out $43 million in "reimbursements and regulatory expenses" for misconduct when Ross was at the helm of his namesake fund.
Ross also allegedly skimmed money by serving on corporate boards of his firm's portfolio companies. Again, the rule was that a portion of the fees that WL Ross employees got for serving on such boards was essentially supposed to be handed back to investors as rebates. Instead, Ross' firm did not give back enough, according to ex-colleagues. Ross "was like a kid in a candy store," says one of his former employees. "He pilfered it."
To which Ross issued a very carefully worded denial claiming that he personally has never been sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The SEC has never initiated any enforcement action against me.
Look at this guy flying under the radar all sneaky-like! All that time Scott Pruitt was out there scamming a cheap apartment and trying to buy a used Trump jizz mattress, and Ol' Man Ross is just scooping up the Benjamins on the DL! Who had Wilbur Ross in the bracket as Griftiest Fucker Not Named Trump? Hats off to you, Sir or Madam!
And mad props to Forbes. Not sure what kind of scandal it takes to force a Cabinet Secretary's resignation in the Grift-a-Palooza Administration, but GODSPEED Dan Alexander!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.