By Stelios Orphanides
Bank of Cyprus’s former vice president Wilbur Ross, appointed secretary of commerce by US President Donald Trump earlier this year, may not be as wealthy as initially thought, a report on Forbes’ website suggests.
Forbes which listed Ross, who led a group of US investors in participating in Bank of Cyprus’s 2014 capital increase, in its list of billionaires, decided to remove the investor after his financial disclosure forms showed his fortune was worth $700m (€605m), instead of a previous estimate of $2.9bn, Forbes reported.
Ross, it added, even disputed the latter figure and said that he was worth €3.7bn.
The Forbes story came days after new revelations of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) showed that Ross stood in a business relationship with a company owned by Russians with links to President Vladimir Putin.
Ross said that he had transferred the missing $2bn of his wealth after last year’s presidential election and before he was nominated as secretary of commerce, to trusts for his family which he was not obliged by law to disclose and declined to provide documentation citing “privacy issues,” Forbes reported adding that it embarked on a month-long investigation which failed to corroborate Ross’s version of the story.
“That money never existed,” Forbes said. “It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004. In addition to just padding his ego, Ross’s machinations helped bolster his standing in a way that translated into business opportunities”.
The full Forbes story, dated November 7, is available here.