Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross shorted shares of a Kremlin-linked company days before a bombshell story dropped

Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesCommerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross shorted shares of Navigator Holdings, a firm with ties to the Kremlin, days after being contacted for comment on a potentially negative story, Forbes reported.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law owns a stake in the company that was once as large as 20%.
  • In a statement, Ross said he did not receive nonpublic information before betting against the company.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross bet against the stock of a shipping firm just days after The New York Times contacted him about the company’s links to the Kremlin, Forbes reported.

In October, the Times emailed Ross questions about his investments in Navigator Holdings, a mover of liquefied gases whose major clients included a Russian energy company. Three days later, Ross made the so-called short sale, and closed out his position nearly three weeks after the Times and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published details of Ross’ investment and the company’s link to the Kremlin.

Kirill Shamalov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law, owns a small stake in the company that was once as large as 20%.

The Office of Government Ethics released details of Ross’ short position on Monday.

In a short sale, an investor borrows shares of a company and sells them with the intention of buying them back at a lower price. That way, the investor profits from the difference between the higher price at which they sold the stock and lower purchase price.

Ross’ short sale was worth between $US100,000 and $US250,000, the Times reported.

The Securities and Exchange Commission considers insider trading as any transaction on public markets that’s based on nonpublic information that can influence prices once it’s revealed.

“I did not receive any nonpublic information due to my government position, nor did I receive any nonpublic information from a government employee,” Ross said in a statement according to the AP. “Securities laws presume that information known to or provided by a news organisation is by definition public information.”

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