New secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross has ties to illicit Russian finance

The senate confirmed billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce in a 72 to 27 vote less contentious than some other cabinet approvals.

In a hard opening month for President Trump, cabinet nominees including treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and education secretary Betsy De Vos faced rigorous scrutiny from Congress before being narrowly confirmed.

"He plans to keep making money from one of his major oil shipping companies while working as Commerce Secretary", Warren said.

Since 2014, Ross has served as vice chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Cyprus, the largest bank in Cyprus, which was saved from bankruptcy in 2013 by a bailout from the Eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund and by forced contributions from most of its savers. With a market share of 30 percent, Bank of Cyprus has always been the market leader in Cypriot financial chicanery.

This bank also is the second largest shareholder in the Russian conglomerate Lamesa Holding, owned by the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, whose fortune is valued at more than $12 billion by Forbes.

USA stocks slip after recent record-setting run
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.27-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq , a 1.51-to-1 ratio favored decliners. Revenue for Papa John's global wasn't as good as investors hoped, and its shares gave up $7.36, or 8.6 percent, to $78.27.

Ross will also take a lead role in re-negotiating NAFTA, one of Trump's key campaign pledges.

Wilbur Ross, left, is sworn in to be commerce secretary by Vice-President Mike Pence as Ross's wife Hilary Geary Ross holds a bible on Tuesday.

The bank's former chairman, Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, is reportedly close to President Putin, a fellow former KGB agent.

But in a speech just before the Senate vote to approve Mr Ross's nomination as secretary of the commerce department, Senator Nelson said the White House "has chosen to sit on" a written response by Mr Ross to some of those questions even though the incoming commerce secretary told the senator he was eager to release his response. And in his free time he hangs out with other Wall Street tycoons who sit around making fun of everybody else.

  • Megan Austin