ROSS IS A WELL-KNOWN “VULTURE CAPITALIST”
Forbes: Ross Has Been Called A “Vulture Investor.” In November 2016 Forbes wrote, “While some view him as a savior, risking millions to revive firms that might otherwise go out of business, others have called him a “vulture investor” for preying on weak companies, sometimes slashing jobs and pensions to turn a profit.” [Forbes, 11/29/16]
New York Times: Ross Is “One Of The Most Visible And Successful Of A Breed Of Investor Known As ‘Vultures’.” In November 2016 the New York Times wrote, “The nomination of Mr. Ross would be the capstone to a career on Wall Street that has spanned decades and has made him one of the most visible and successful of a breed of investor known as ‘vultures’ because of their penchant for going after nearly dead businesses.” [New York Times, 11/25/16]
Ross Got Very Rich By Buying And Gutting Businesses, Worth Estimated At $2.9 Billion. In November 2016 the New York Times wrote, “With wealth estimated at $2.9 billion, Mr. Ross, who turns 79 on Monday, would join a cabinet that is already expected to include one of the superwealthy in Betsy DeVos, the nominee for secretary of education, and that may soon have others.” [New York Times, 11/25/16]
ABC News: Ross Was Known As “The King Of Bankruptcy.” In November 2016 ABC News reported, “Ross, 78, made a fortune restructuring failed companies in the manufacturing and steel industries, among others, earning him the moniker, the ‘King of Bankruptcy.’” [ABC News, 11/30/16]
ROSS HAS A HISTORY OF REGULATORY PROBLEMS & QUESTIONABLE PRACTICES
Ross Paid A $2.3 Million SEC Fine For Failing To Properly Disclose Fees. In November 2016 Forbes wrote, “And in August WL Ross & Co. agreed to pay a $2.3 million fine to the SEC related to charges that it didn't properly disclose its fee allocation practices to some investors. The firm did not admit any wrongdoing and volunteered to pay back the fees with interest, on top of the fine.” [Forbes, 11/29/16]
Ross Was Sued For Profiting From Insider Trading By Shareholders Of A Subprime Lender. In April 2015 Law360, a legal news publication, wrote, “An Ocwen Financial Corp. board member improperly profited from selling a $72 million company stake held by his financial funds weeks before Ocwen’s poor quarterly performance was publicly disclosed, according to an investor suit filed in New York court Wednesday. Stockholder Robert Lowinger claims Wilbur L. Ross Jr. used his position as an Ocwen board member and as manager of WL Ross & Co. LLC and other funds to sell over $72 million in Ocwen stock back to the company just two weeks before a 20 percent drop in the stock price, which followed the company's posting of poor operating results for the quarter ending June 30. The sale saved Ross’ funds $18 million at Ocwen’s expense, the derivative shareholder complaint says, and Lowinger has repeatedly asked the board of trustees to pursue insider trading charges against Ross to no avail.” [Law360.com, 04/30/15]
A Subprime Lender Was Fined $2.2 Billion By The CFPB In 2013, While Ross Was On The Board. In December 2013 the New York Times’ Dealbook wrote, “A $2.2 billion agreement is settling accusations against a large but little known player in the mortgage industry that escaped last year’s sweeping mortgage settlement. The Ocwen Financial Corporation, which has ridden its specialty in servicing subprime loans to become the fourth-largest mortgage servicer in the country, was accused of improperly handling the loans of homeowners after the financial crisis. The agreement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and 49 states covers similar ground to a $25 billion settlement made last year with the largest banks.” [New York Times Dealbook, 12/19/13]
Ross Left The Board Of Ocwen In November Of 2014. According to a Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Wilbur Ross left the board of Ocwen Financial Corporation on November 20, 2014. [SEC Form 8-K: Ocwen Financial Corporation, 11/20/14]
ROSS HAS A MULTITUDE OF POTENTIAL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Forbes: “It Remains To Be Seen How Ross […] Will Comply With Federal Ethics Laws.” In November 2016 Forbes wrote, “It remains to be seen how Ross -- whose investments in financial institutions around the globe, for instance, could raise questions about conflicts of interest -- will comply with federal ethics laws governing cabinet members’ business interests.” [Forbes, 11/29/16]
New York Times: Ross Had Potential Conflicts Due To Relationships With Foreign Leaders From Russia And China. In November 2016 the New York Times wrote, “Still, those overseas deals could raise questions about his relationships with foreign leaders and businesspeople from China and Russia.” [New York Times, 11/25/16]
Ross Was Vice Chairman Of The Largest Bank In Cyprus At The Time Of His Appointment. In November 2016 the New York Times wrote, “He is vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, the biggest bank in that European island nation, and he is credited with helping the bank to recover from a severe crisis in 2013.” [New York Times, 11/25/16]
His Position At Bank Of Cyprus Made Him A Close Associate With A Businessman With Ties To The Kremlin. In November 2016 the New York Times wrote, “He is vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, the biggest bank in that European island nation, and he is credited with helping the bank to recover from a severe crisis in 2013. But Mr. Ross’s investment in the bank also makes him a de facto business partner with Viktor F. Vekselberg, one of Russia’s most prominent businesspeople and a man with ties to the Kremlin.” [New York Times, 11/25/16]
Ross Had Deep Ties To Chinese State-Owned Energy Company, Run By The Son Of A Former Prime Minister. In November 2016 the New York Times wrote, “Yet for all the anti-China commentary, Mr. Ross has been a frequent visitor in the past two decades and has made inroads in that country’s energy industry. Mr. Ross linked up with the most powerful player in the country’s power generation business, China Huaneng Group, in 2008. The state-owned company had been run for years by the eldest son of Li Peng, the former prime minister who was the godfather of the country’s electricity industry.” [New York Times, 11/25/16]
Ross Could Have Resigned From His Board Seats, But Hadn’t At The Time His Appointment Was Announced. In November 2016 the New York Times wrote, “Some suggest Mr. Ross’s business ties may pose potential conflicts of interest. But the sale of his company, W.L. Ross, may make it easier for Mr. Ross to separate himself from its far-flung interests, which include businesses in Europe, China and India. His remaining financial interests in the firm’s funds could be put in a blind trust, and he could easily resign from the five corporate boards on which he sits.” [New York Times, 11/25/16]
Ross Could Stand To Profit From Steel Industry Trade Rulings Commerce Would Oversee. In November 2016 Politico wrote, “For example, Ross’ investments in steel place him close to an industry that has waged an aggressive campaign of trade cases against foreign competitors in recent years. That could raise questions over whether he would benefit financially from favorable trade rulings by Commerce’s International Trade Administration.” [Politico, 11/29/16]
ROSS’ APPOINTMENT MAY BE MAKING GOOD ON OLD FAVORS
Ross Ensured That Trump Kept His Failing Casino In Atlantic City In 1990. In November 2016 the New York Times wrote, “To some degree, Mr. Ross helped Mr. Trump do that when some of his casinos in Atlantic City fell on hard times. Mr. Ross and Carl C. Icahn, another billionaire investor and supporter of Mr. Trump, were both bondholders in the Trump Taj Mahal casino when it was teetering on financial collapse in 1990. Instead of pushing the casino into an immediate bankruptcy, Mr. Ross and Mr. Icahn worked with Mr. Trump and others to structure a more orderly bankruptcy filing in 1991. The negotiated restructuring helped Mr. Trump salvage his name and brand at a time when he arguably did not have many friends on Wall Street.” [New York Times, 11/25/16]
Ross Donated $200,000 To Trump’s Campaign In 2016. In November 2016 Forbes wrote, “Ross initially supported Marco Rubio’s big for the presidency, according to Federal Election Commission data, but turned his attention -- and wallet -- to the GOP nominee in July, when he gave $200,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, the joint fundraising effort between Trump and the Republican National Committee.” [Forbes, 11/29/16]
ROSS ENCOURAGED TRUMP TO SIDESTEP CONGRESS
Ross Suggested That Trump Change U.S. Trade Policy Through Executive Action. In November 2016 the New York Times wrote, “Yet Mr. Ross has also suggested that he is receptive to some of the anti-trade views favored by American labor unions and by Mr. Trump. ‘The president has a huge amount of fire in terms of abrogating treaties, and he can do a lot without reference to Congress,’ Mr. Ross said in an interview the day after the election. Mr. Ross, a member of Mr. Trump’s economic team during the campaign, said he expected the new president to do a lot on trade and regulation through executive action. ‘He is serious about suspending any new regulations,’ said Mr. Ross, who held one of Mr. Trump’s first fund-raisers.” [New York Times, 11/25/16]
ROSS WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAGO MINE WHEN 12 MINERS DIED IN 2006
Ross’ Company Owned The Sago During The 2006 Explosion That Killed 12 Miners. In November 2016 Forbes wrote, “In 2006, however, 12 coal miners suffocated after an explosion at a West Virginia mine that was owned by International Coal Group. The mine had a history of safety violations; the lone survivor and families of the deceased miners sued. The company settled all of the suits and was sold to Arch Coal in 2011 for $3.4 billion.” [Forbes, 11/29/16]
Ross Defended His Management Of Sago, “Even With Multiple Warning Signs.” In November 2016 ABC News reported, “As the owner of the Sago mine, Wilbur Ross was accused by miners and their families of ignoring safety regulations that cost the lives of 12 miners in the 2006 Sago mine disaster. Days after the mine explosion, ABC News' Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross had a sit-down interview with the billionaire in which he defended his company's management of the mine even with multiple warning signs in the form of previously-issued safety citations.” [ABC News, 11/30/16]
Ross Personally Made $210 Million When The Company That Owned Sago Went Public. In November 2016 Forbes wrote, “His foray into investing in distressed coal companies that same year proved similarly lucrative: Ross went public with his coal assets, under the banner International Coal Group, and personally made $210 million.” [Forbes, 11/29/16]
Ross Admittedly Had A Clear Understanding Of The Sago Mine’s Abysmal Safety Record. In January 2006 ABC News’ Brian Ross interviewed Ross. The transcript reads in part:
And it turns out that the violations were well-known to the billionaire chairman of the company back in New York.
Well, there were violations. Every mine in the country has violations.
208 violations, 96 of them significant or substantial, 13 D-level. You know what that means?
That means unwarranted failure.
I understand what they mean.
How could you operate a mine like that? Why would you keep it open with those records of violations?
Well, you have to put it in the context of the industry. I mean...
Every day, men go down into those holes.
Where, according to the records, and you've seen them...
The roofs keep falling in. They found combustible materials in there just weeks before this accident.
Were you comfortable sending men into that hole?
We were comfortable based on the assurances from our management that they felt that it was a safe situation.
[ABC News, 01/05/06]