US Commerce Chief Tied to Russian Shipping Venture, Leaked Documents Show

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The disclosure of Ross' financial interests in Russia comes as a special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, and three congressional panels are investigating Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election, an effort the US intelligence community has concluded was led by Putin in an effort to undermine US democracy and help Trump win the White House.

The cache of documents, called the Paradise Papers, was first leaked to a German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other media, including The Guardian in Britain, The New York Times and NBC News in the USA, all of which reported on the Ross investment on Sunday.

According to a report from The Guardian, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has been shown to be doing business with Vladimir Putin's son-in-law through a shipping venture based out of Russian Federation.

The investments emerged as part of the Paradise Papers leak by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which was behind the 2015 Panama Papers release.

One of the most crucial business relationships Navigator has is with a Russian energy firm that is controlled by Putin's son-in-law and other key members of Putin's close inner circle.

The latest haul contains 13.4 million documents mainly from Appleby, an offshore law firm with offices in Bermuda and beyond.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is reportedly connected to business with Vladimir Putin's son-in-law in links uncovered by The Guardian's "Paradise Papers", which claim to reveal overseas tax secrets of politicians and the wealthy.

NBC further reported that the documentation they examined "tell a different story than the one Ross told at his confirmation", noting that the commerce secretary "did not reveal to the government the full details of the holdings he kept". The owners of that company include Putin's son-in-law and an oligarch under USA sanctions.

Lawmakers who were part of Ross' confirmation hearings say they feel duped. "Our committee was misled, the American people were misled by the concealment of those companies".

James Rockas, a spokesman for Wilbur Ross, told The New York Times that the commerce secretary "recuses himself from any matters focused on transoceanic shipping vessels, but has been generally supportive of the administration's sanctions of Russian and Venezuelan entities".

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort was also indicted in Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe, with charges that included "conspiracy against the United States".

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