Commerce Secretary to Sell All His Remaining Equity Holdings

Wilbur Ross cites need to “maintain the public trust”

The Office of Government Ethics criticized Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a letter for his handling of his personal finances. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday he would selling all of his remaining equity holdings.

“My ethics agreement allowed me to retain some private equity holdings. To maintain the public trust, I have directed that all of my equity holdings be sold and the proceeds placed in U.S. Treasury securities,” Ross said in a statement.

The decision came in conjunction with the release of a letter to Ross from the Office of Government Ethics that criticized his handling of his personal finances, including errors in reporting paperwork and a failure to divest some assets in a timely fashion.

“Unfortunately, even inadvertent errors regarding compliance with your ethical obligations can undermine public trust in both you and the overall ethics program,” OGE acting director David J. Apol wrote. “Furthermore, your actions, including your continued ownership of assets required to be divested in your Ethics Agreement and your opening of short sale positions, could have placed you in a position to run afoul of the primary criminal conflict of interest law.”

Ross’s net worth is currently estimated at $700 million, though as Forbes magazine explained last year, it was thought to have been much higher.

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