Wilbur Ross’s shipping empire forms one of the most high profile exposés in the just released Paradise Papers.
Ross, the commerce secretary in the Donald Trump administration, is in hot water for shipping firm Navigator’s business dealings in Russia with Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law.
The Paradise Papers, detailed for the first time on Sunday, are a leak of 13.4m files from two offshore service providers and 19 tax havens’ company registries. Commodities giant Glencore has also been forced to answer some difficult questions in the wake of the leaks.
Ross has a stake in Navigator Holdings, which has contracts with Sibur, a Russian gas company part-owned by Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Putin’s daughter Katerina Tikhonova. Two major Sibur shareholders are under some form of US sanctions.
Another Navigator customer has been PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company. It was targeted by US sanctions this year.
SwissMarine, the shipping line controlled by Glencore, the world’s largest commodities trader, has also been embroiled by the so called Paradise Papers.
The Australian Financial Review (AFR) said SwissMarine made “material mis-statements and omissions in bank applications and financial agreements” in 2013. At the time, SwissMarine’s second-biggest shareholder was Greek shipowner Victor Restis, who was in jail awaiting trial for fraud and embezzlement, the AFR reported. Glencore said its investment in SwissMarine is not “significant” and wasn’t widely disclosed for “commercial reasons.” Reporters working on the Paradise Papers claim SwissMarine contravened sanctions against Iran.