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Wilbur Ross held bank shares despite reporting he'd sold them, report says

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross failed to sell a bank stock holding within the required time frame after his ...

Posted: Dec 21, 2018 6:59 AM
Updated: Dec 21, 2018 6:59 AM

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross failed to sell a bank stock holding within the required time frame after his 2017 confirmation and subsequently signed ethics documents indicating the holding had been sold, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity.

Ross continued to hold shares worth up to $15,000 in Florida-based BankUnited until October 2018, though he was required to divest within 90 days of his Senate confirmation in February 2017, according to documents obtained by the nonprofit.

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He said in a statement that he thought the stock, which represents a tiny fraction of his net worth, had been sold in May 2017. He said that the previous disclosures in which he indicated he had sold the stock were "based on a mistaken belief that the agent executed my sell order on that date."

In his statement, Ross also said that his October disclosure "corrected an earlier filing."

It's the latest in a string of similar problems for the billionaire investor.

Ross signed a government ethics agreement in November 2017, saying he had completed divestitures. But a month later, he submitted a report saying he had sold stock in his former company Invesco.

In July, the Office of Government Ethics wrote in a letter that Ross' failure to divest certain investments "created the potential for a serious criminal violation."

Ross then issued a statement in response, admitting to "inadvertent errors" in failing to divest assets and saying he'd sell all his stock holdings.

"My investments were complex and included hundreds of items. I self-reported each error, and worked diligently with my department's ethics officials to make sure I avoided any conflicts of interest," he said in his July statement.

As a Cabinet nominee, Ross signed an ethics agreement pledging to sell off most of his financial assets once he was confirmed.

Ross stated on two forms -- a May 2017 transaction report and an annual financial disclosure filed in August 2018 -- that he had divested the BankUnited stock. But he filed a transaction report in October 2018 showing that he continued to own the stock until October 1.

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