A report published Tuesday from Forbes indicates at least one of the billionaires in President Donald Trump’s orbit isn’t what he claims to be.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who has previously stated his net worth at around $3.7 billion, appears to only be worth a fraction of that — with his actual fortune falling at less than $700 million.
While Forbes never quite bought into Ross’s $3.7 billion figure, it moved to revise its previous estimate of $2.7 billion after reviewing Ross’s financial disclosure for his position as commerce secretary. Faced with removal from the Forbes 400 list, Ross fought with the magazine:
Ross protested, citing trusts for his family that he said he did not have to disclose in federal filings.
“You’re apparently not counting those, which are more than $2 billion,” he said. When asked for documentation, the 79-year-old demurred, citing “privacy issues.” Told that Forbes nonetheless planned to remove him from the list for the first time in 13 years, he responded: “As long as you explain that the reason is that assets were put into trust, I’m fine with that.” And when did he make the transfer that allowed him to not disclose over $2 billion? “Between the election and the nomination.”
So began the mystery of Wilbur Ross’ missing $2 billion. And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed.
While a $700 million fortune is still nothing to scoff at, it’s telling that a member of Trump’s cabinet felt compelled to lie about something so trivial for so long. The news that Ross isn’t worth what he’s always claimed to be also echoes longstanding rumors about Trump, which have only been fueled by his refusal to release his tax returns.
“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,” Forbes reported, indicating Ross had misled the business magazine for more than a decade.
The Forbes report comes one day after it was revealed Ross still holds a stake in a Russian shipping company with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.