Fox News host calls out Wilbur Ross over conflicts of interest on investments

Fox News host Steve Hilton on Sunday sharply criticized Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossTrump’s arms export rules will undermine US security and risk human rights abuses Hillicon Valley: Mueller indicts Russians for DNC hack | US officially lifts ZTE ban | AT&T CEO downplays merger challenge | Microsoft asks for rules on facial recognition technology | Dems want probe into smart TVs US officially lifts ban on Chinese telecom giant ZTE MORE in a segment calling out Ross for conflicts of interest with his investments.

Hilton pointed out on his show, "The Next Revolution," that Ross co-founded a shipping firm, Nautical Bulk Holdings, that ships steel from South Korea, which is one of the countries that has received an exemption from President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE’s steel tariffs.

Ross is currently involved in tariff negotiations.

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“He’s negotiating over South Korean steel imports while making money from importing South Korean steel,” Hilton said.

Hilton also noted that Ross's chief of staff at the Commerce Department is listed as a director of a business associated with Nautical Bulk Holdings, despite having said last year that she resigned from the company.

Hilton said Ross bought a steel company just a week before former President George W. Bush imposed his own tariffs on imported steel, raising the value of Wilbur’s company.

Ross sold the steel company to the Indian steel company ArcelorMittal for $4.5 billion less than three years after the Bush tariffs. Hilton said that the $3 million investment Ross made netted him a $260 million profit and a board seat on ArcelorMittal, which later became the world’s largest steel producer.

Hilton also pointed to Ross’s private equity firm that co-founded and partially owns the shipping company Transportation Recovery Fund, which specializes in the importing of automobile parts.

“Do you think that might affect Wilbur Ross’s handling of President Trump’s tariffs on auto imports?” Hilton asked.

Ross promised to divest from the Transportation Recovery Fund and other companies that might pose a conflict of interest but, Hilton said, there is no evidence that he has done so.

Hilton pointed out that Ross’s shipping companies have ties to companies owned or connected to Russia, China and Venezuela.

Other administrations have had conflicts of interest, Hilton mentioned, “but this stuff from Wilbur Ross is in a different league of swampiness.”

“When President Trump gets back from Singapore, let’s hope he finds time to toss Wilbur Ross,” Hilton concluded.

The Commerce Department of Public Affairs offered a response to The Hill saying that Ross continues to “ensure compliance with federal regulation.”

“Secretary Ross continues to follow the guidance of the Office of Government Ethics and Department of Commerce ethics officials to ensure compliance with federal regulations,” the statement reads. “Much of this report is based on half-truths and assumptions that frankly do not make much sense. Secretary Ross has fully divested in accordance with his ethics agreement filed with the Office of Government Ethics.”

Updated at 4:39 p.m.