Will Senate Press Trump Commerce Nominee About Shady Russia-Tied Bank Before Monday’s Vote?

Commerce Pick Wilbur Ross Linked to Russian-Tied Bank Known for Money Laundering and Illicit Activity

State-specific versions of this release were also sent targeting the following senators: Sens. Lisa Murkowski & Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).


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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate has failed to address one of the Trump administration’s most troubling ties to Russia: Secretary of Commerce nominee Wilbur Ross. With his confirmation vote expected on Monday, senators are running out of time to press Ross on his relationship with a Russian-tied bank known for money laundering and illicit activity.

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.”

“Where there is smoke, there is usually fire. Various Republican Senators have called for an investigation into the Trump team’s ties to Russia. Next week they will decide whether to put someone with questionable, unprobed ties to Russia on the cabinet. Will their tough rhetoric on Russia result in a demand for answers from Ross about his Russian ties before the vote? This will separate the statesmen from the sycophants,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.

He continued, “Senators should demand answers from Ross about his ties to Russia before the full body votes on his confirmation. They weren’t sent to Washington to be a rubber stamp for Donald Trump and the Russians. It’s time for them to take a stand where it counts.”

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 cdipasquale@skdknick.com.

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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).

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