Leaked documents expose links between Trump’s commerce secretary and Putin’s son-in-law

Breaking news from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP): “A trove of 13.4 million records exposes ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary, the secret dealings of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief fundraiser and the offshore interests of the queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world.”

Of note is the revelation that Wilbur Ross, Trump’s commerce secretary, has massive financial ties to Russians under US sanctions.

In the United States, the files reveal foreign business ties and personal wealth practices of key Trump associates who are charged with helping to put “America First.”

The Appleby files show how Ross, Trump’s commerce secretary, has used a chain of Cayman Islands entities to maintain a financial stake in Navigator Holdings, a shipping company whose top clients include the Kremlin-linked energy firm Sibur. Among Sibur’s key owners are Kirill Shamalov, Russian President Putin’s son-in-law, and Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire the U.S. government sanctioned in 2014 because of his links to Putin. Sibur is a major customer of Navigator, paying the company more than $23 million in 2016.

When he joined Trump’s Cabinet, Ross divested his interests in 80 companies. But he kept stakes in nine companies, including the four that connect him to Navigator and its Russian clients.

These revelations come against a backdrop of growing concerns about hidden Russian involvement in U.S. political affairs.

Sibur is “a company with crony connections,” said Daniel Fried, a Russia expert who has served in senior State Department posts in both Republican and Democratic administrations. “Why would any officer of the U.S. government have any relationship with a Putin crony?”

A spokesman for Ross said that the Commerce Secretary never met Putin’s son-in-law or Sibur’s other owners and that he was not on the board of Navigator when it initiated its relationship with Sibur.

Ross recuses himself from matters that relate to international shipping, his spokesman said, and “has been generally supportive of the administration’s sanctions” against Russian entities.

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