It’s been a tough week for 79-year-old Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. First, leaked documents revealed that one of his businesses is closely tied to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle — a fact that he conveniently forgot to disclose to senators during his confirmation hearing.
Now, Forbes has published a stunning revelation that is sure to be a much more grievous blow to his sense of self: Ross is probably not even a billionaire.
Ross has been advertised as the richest of President Trump’s Cabinet secretaries, which counts as a major qualification in this White House. Forbes, famous for its rich-people rankings, listed his wealth at $2.9 billion last year, but became suspicious after sifting through the financial-disclosure forms Ross filed when he entered government, which showed a net worth near $700 million. Ross told the magazine that the real number was actually closer to $4 billion, and that the missing money was tied up in family trusts. But …
After one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed. It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004.
The article goes on to detail a pattern of wealth-inflating fabulism that has buoyed Ross’s reputation over the years, lending him prestige that helped him make more business deals. And it makes clear that Ross’s falsehoods extended well beyond Forbes:
“Wilbur doesn’t have an issue with bending the truth,” says David Wax, who worked alongside Ross for 25 years and served as the No. 3 person in his firm. Another former colleague, who requested anonymity, was less circumspect: “He’s lied to a lot of people.”
It’s starting to become clear why Trump took a shine to this guy in the first place.