/ Wilbur Ross

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Lies About Being a Billionaire

At one point he told Forbes he'd moved a lot of money into trusts "between the nomination and the election." Then he said he hadn't. Better a liar than a tax cheat?

Donald Trump picked Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department because he was "a champion of manufacturing" and "one of the greatest negotiators I have ever met."

Apparently one of the things Ross championed the manufacturing of was his net worth. Forbes is taking him off the Forbes 400, its ongoing list of the richest Americans, because they realized he isn't qualified. In fact, Ross has been lying for more than a decade.

How did this come to light? Well, first Ross insisted he was worth more than Forbes pegged him at, claiming $3.7 billion instead of $2.9 billion. (Sound familiar?)

And when Forbes looked into the financial disclosures he filed in order to work for Trump, the publication realized it had been mistaken.

Forbes had overestimated his net worth by about $2.2 billion: The commerce secretary's forms showed only assets worth about $700 million.

When Forbes let him know, Ross protested that he had tons of money he didn't have to list on federal forms. Private trusts, you see.

Forbes asked when he moved that money into trusts so he wouldn't have to disclose it, expecting to call his bluff — such a transfer would require hundreds of millions in taxes. Ross simply said "between the election and the nomination."

And, to make quite a long story short (read the Forbes piece documenting his years-long deception), Ross offered lots of excuses and bluster. But when push came to shove, the Commerce Department was forced to issue a statement denying there had been any asset transfer for Ross.

Better a liar than a tax cheat, or something like that. By the way, Trump is still on the list — he sits in a 16-way tie for No. 248 at $3.1 billion, lower than the spot at which Ross claimed to belong.

Shutterstock/Pop Paul-Catalin

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