Dems ask SEC to investigate Wilbur Ross for insider trading

Dems ask SEC to investigate Wilbur Ross for insider trading
© Anna Moneymaker

Three Democratic lawmakers asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOn The Money: Commerce to review uranium imports | Lawmakers urge Trump not to impose auto tariffs | White House wants steeper cuts to EPA funding | Google hit with massive B fine Auto industry groups, lawmakers urge Trump administration to avoid tariffs on auto imports Census Bureau faces hiring woes amid low unemployment MORE violated federal insider trading laws.

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOn The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal On The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy MORE (Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), and Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsDem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting Hillicon Valley: Trump denies Russian meddling at presser with Putin | Republicans join in criticism of Trump | FCC chief rejects Sinclair-Tribune merger | Uber faces probe over gender discrimination | Social media execs headed to Capitol Overnight Energy: Koch backs bill opposing carbon taxes | Lawmakers look to Interior budget to block offshore drilling | EPA defends FOIA process MORE (Md.) asked SEC Commissioner Jay Clayton in a letter released Thursday to probe Ross’s sale of shares of a shipping company with ties to the Russian government.

Ross shorted shares of Navigator Holdings after he learned that reporters at the New York Times were preparing to write a story about his ties to the Russian-linked company, according to Forbes.

The Times reported that Ross placed his bet against the stock price three days after the paper had contacted him about the story, and five days before the story was published. Navigator’s share plummeted soon after the Times ran the story, netting Ross between $100,000 and $250,000.

The lawmakers asked Clayton to investigate whether Ross had used non-public information acquired through his government position to profit from stock sales, which could violate federal insider trading laws. They also asked Clayton to probe whether Ross violated federal insider trading laws not specific to government employees.

"This chain of events raises questions about whether the Secretary potentially made investment decisions based on material, non-public information, and whether that material, non-public information was potentially derived from his position as Commerce Secretary,” the lawmakers wrote.

Several top Democratic lawmakers have asked the Commerce Department’s inspector general to probe potential conflicts of interest raised by Ross’s possession and sale of stock in Navigator.

Commerce Department spokesman James Rockas told the The Hill in a Wednesday email that Ross “continues to follow the guidance of Department of Commerce ethics officials to ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations," and that "ethics officials have certified that the transactions documented are in compliance with federal ethics requirements."