Wilbur Ross shorted stock after learning negative story was coming: report

Wilbur Ross shorted stock after learning negative story was coming: report
© Greg Nash

Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossThe booming economy trumps Trump's trade battle with China On The Money: Senate approves 4B spending bill | China imposes new tariffs on billion in US goods | Ross downplays new tariffs: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' Ross: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' new tariffs on China MORE shorted stock in a navigation company after he learned that journalists were preparing to write a negative story about his ties to the Russian-linked company, Forbes first reported on Monday.

The transaction took place last fall after The New York Times emailed Ross a list of questions about his investments in the shipping company Navigator Holdings after noticing his name listed in the Paradise Papers, the Times reported.

Ross opened a short position in Navigator three days after the Times sent him the questions. The stock price of the company fell four percent before Ross closed his position on November 16, eleven days after the Times published the articles about his finances.  

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On Tuesday, Ross put out a statement saying he had no nonpublic information about Navigator before he shorted the stock. He added that the reporter who contacted him was writing about his personal financial holdings and not about Navigator and thus the reporter’s questions were not “market-moving information.”

However, the Times said that the letter they sent Ross clearly said that “the story focuses mostly on your involvement with Navigator Holdings” and included ten questions specifically about Navigator, Ross’s connection to the firm and the company’s links to Russia.

Ross has said that the short sale of Navigator stocks was not to make money and it isn’t yet clear if he profited from the transaction, which has been valued between $100,000 and $250,000.

The secretary also said in another statement that he had been in the process of divesting his holdings in Navigator when he discovered he had shares in the company that he didn’t know about, the Times reported. He said he couldn’t access the shares because they were in “electronic form.”

When he took office, Ross still held his Navigator investment but has said he’s since divested.

“I decided to continue selling those shares, but since I did not have physical possession of them in order to make delivery in the required time period, I technically sold them short,” he said, according to the Times.

The Paradise Papers published in November thoroughly examined Ross’s relationship as a major investor in Navigator and the company's ties to Russia.