New Trump Commerce Secretary Linked to Russian-Tied Bank Known for Money Laundering
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tonight the Senate voted to confirm Wilbur Ross, President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Commerce. Ross has a long history of financial ties with Russian oligarchs, including at least one former KGB agent and longtime associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Today’s vote by the Senate is nothing short of troubling. We know that Ross has deep financial ties to allies of the Russian government that may have undermined our election, but we don’t have a full understanding of his recent contact with Russian aligned actors,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.
He continued, “While Ross has been confirmed, it’s not too late to hold him accountable. Senators should demand answers from Ross about his ties to Russia and he should be included in any investigation into the Trump campaign and administration’s improper contact with Russia.”
Today, Trump Transparency Project published additional research concerning Ross’ long and complicated business ties to Russian oligarchs through his investment and seat on the board of the Bank of Cyprus. You can view that dossier here.
Questionable Ties Between Ross and Russia:
A recent report by McClatchy details Ross’ business ties with Russian oligarchs at the Bank of Cyprus, which is known to have a checkered record of money laundering and illicit activity. One of Ross’ top business partners at the bank, Viktor Vekselberg is a former KGB agent and a longtime associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Meanwhile Bloomberg has reported that WL Ross & Co. “isn’t planning to sell its stake” in the Russia-tied bank while Ross serves in the Trump administration.
But Ross’ troubling ties to Russia don’t stop there. According to the McClatchy report: “Ross was instrumental in creating its new board of directors. He tapped as its chairman Josef Ackermann, the retired CEO of Germany’s Deutsche Bank.”
As CNN reported, last month Deutsche Bank was fined $630 million by financial regulators in the U.S. and U.K. for an alleged $10 billion Russian money-laundering scheme. This followed a “$7.2 billion settlement” the bank reached with the U.S. Department of Justice in December “over toxic mortgage assets and the $2.5 billion it agreed to pay in 2015 over interest rate manipulation.”
According to McClatchy, “The Trump Organization has debt with Deutsche Bank, which loaned it more than $364 million in recent years and more than $3 billion since the 1990s.”
The conservative news site Newsmax recently noted that Republican members of Congress have been getting peppered at town hall meetings by constituents demanding, among other things, accountability on the Trump administration’s ties to Russia.
To speak with Karl Frisch about Ross and his Russian ties, please contact Charlie DiPasquale at 202-464-6916 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Allied Progress is a nationwide, progressive advocacy organization that uses hard-hitting research and creative campaigns to hold Wall Street and powerful special interests accountable. Since launching in 2015, the organization has led high-profile campaigns on several issues including reforming the payday lending industry and exposing the those working to cripple the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).