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Wilbur Ross’s shipping investments at the centre of the Paradise Papers

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.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Curious that the Russian energy company involved in this matter “SIBUR” appears to have the same phonetic pronunciation as “CYBER”. KGB people often like to let others know when they are on the scene. perhaps it’s just a coincidence……

  2. All nice and “transparent”…

    This is not going to help the image of our industry.

  3. I do not see any connection between what customers/co-operating partners Navigator has and the image of our industry. I think the only mistake Wilbur made was either to go out of all investment or alternatively when keeping something, give full disclosure. In my mind the Paradise papers give no new information at all in this case.

  4. The real story of the Paradise Papers is about tax evasion, not illegal activity but maybe immoral behaviour.
    The practice of Flag of Convenience is an epitome of this activity.

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