An investigation by Forbes' Dan Alexander found that Ross stole and siphoned millions of dollars in assets from his business associates. Alexander's conclusion: "all told, these allegations -- which sparked lawsuits, reimbursements and an SEC fine -- come to more than $120 million."


He has admitted to shorting stocks months after attaining office. Ross has owned stakes in Chinese government-owned companies, a shipping company called Navigator with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and banks that are under federal government investigation. The New York Times reported last month: "Three business days after Mr. Ross was contacted by The New York Times for a forthcoming article about those ties, he took out a short position valued at between $100,000 and $250,000 on Navigator's stock -- essentially a bet that the stock's value would decrease -- putting him in a position to potentially profit from negative news about the company." These are not just ethical red flags, but potentially huge conflicts of interest.


Ross, who Forbes had listed in previous years as being worth $2.9 billion, actually revealed a comparatively smaller net worth of $700 million last year when he had to cough up paperwork required to work for the federal government. Ross initially said that he had transferred $2 billion to a family account before submitting the filings, but Alexander concluded in a November 2017 report something which may not be entirely shocking: "That money never existed."

Lying about one's own material wealth is not a unique sin, but doing it on such an outrageous and public scale can mean business opportunities and more valuable branding for people like Ross, and his boss, Donald Trump.

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