Recently updated on April 7th, 2022 at 05:53 pm

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was allowed by ethics officials to maintain investments and other ties to a group of shipping firms. Many of the these firms’ clients specialize in industries greatly impacted by the Commerce Department’s policies, particularly the implementation of tariffs still to be negotiated largely by Ross and the Commerce Department.

The Government Accountability Institute investigated Ross’s business ties and published our findings in the report entitled “Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: Trade Negotiations & Conflicts of Interest.”

Ross maintains a stake in entities tied to Nautical Bulk Holdings Ltd., which does significant business with foreign steel companies potentially subject to or impacted by tariffs. The Trump administration granted South Korea and the European Union qualified tariff exemptions. Eighty-one percent of Nautical Bulk Holdings’ imports to the US have originated from South Korea and the EU since May 2016.

Ross maintains a stake in entities tied to Nautical Bulk Holdings Ltd., which does significant business with foreign steel companies potentially subject to or impacted by tariffs. The Trump administration granted South Korea and the European Union qualified tariff exemptions. Eighty-one percent of Nautical Bulk Holdings’ imports to the US have originated from South Korea and the EU since May 2016.

Nautical Bulk also does business with ArcelorMittal, the world’ s largest steelmaker. Ross served on ArcelorMittal’s board before joining the government. He turned an enormous personal profit in 2005, when Lakshmi Mittal, ArcelorMittal’s CEO and board chair, bought Ross’s American steel companies for $4.5 billion. The deal followed the implementation of steel tariffs by the Bush administration.

Ross also has investments in Navigator Holdings and Diamond S Shipping, companies that specialize in oil & gas shipments. Clients include Russian, Venezuelan and Chinese state-owned energy companies, several of whom are currently subject to US sanctions. Ross was chairman of Diamond S until becoming the U.S. Commerce Secretary.

Wendy Teramoto, Ross’s current chief of staff, went to work for him at the Commerce Department as a “Special Government Employee” (SGE), a designation that allowed her to continue serving on the boards of Navigator Holdings, Diamond S Shipping, and his own private equity firm, WL Ross & Company.