Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross purposely overstated his wealth by roughly $2 billion to Forbes, according to a new article from the magazine.
Forbes on Tuesday accused Ross of falsely claiming “more than $2 billion” in order to qualify for the business magazine’s annual list of the 400 richest Americans by net worth several times.
The publication also alleged that Ross has long sought to mislead it to “bolster his standing” in the business world and reap benefits from the resulting opportunities.
“So began the mystery of Wilbur Ross’ missing $2 billion,” Forbes’ Dan Alexander wrote in Tuesday’s article.
“And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money has never existed,” he continued.
“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.”
Alexander explained that Ross allegedly deceived Forbes about placing the $2 billion in trusts for his family during his nomination process earlier this year.
Ross refused Forbes’ request for documentation detailing the trusts when asked, citing “privacy issues.”
Forbes then sent Ross and his team at the Commerce Department a detailed set of questions almost a week before Tuesday’s article leveling the magazine’s accusations against him.
“Secretary Ross has filed all required disclosures in accordance with the law and in consultation with both legal counsel and ethics officials at the Department of Commerce and Office of Government Ethics,” the department said in a statement.
“As we have said before, any misunderstanding from your previous conversation with Secretary Ross is unfortunate,” the agency added, declining to give additional answers on the record.
Forbes ultimately questioned the Commerce Department about the alleged $2 billion that Ross claimed he placed in trusts between November 2016 and his confirmation last February.
The Commerce Department next released a statement confirming that the transfer Ross mentioned had never occurred.
“Contrary to the report in Forbes, there was no major asset transfer to a trust in the period between the election and Secretary Ross’s confirmation,” it said, citing Forbes’ Oct. 16 online report on the manner.
“The only problem with that statement: The person who told Forbes that the transfer had taken place, that it had happened after the election and that it had meant more than $2 billion of family assets weren’t on the disclosure was none other than the sitting secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross,” Alexander wrote, citing Ross’s remarks to Forbes last month.