President Donald Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has been accused of insider trading, the allegations stemming from the sale of his shares in the Bank of Ireland.
Ross, then a major shareholder in the bank and member of its board of directors, sold off his holdings for a huge profit in 2014 while possessing inside information that the institution was employing deceptive accounting to hide its losses, a European Parliament report presented in Brussels last week alleges.
Ross's hedge fund WL Ross & Co. had purchased a 34.9 percent stake in the bank at just 10 euro cents per share. Two years after joining the bank's board, Ross sold some of that stake for 33 euro cents per share, and again a short time later for 26 euro cents per share, for a grand profit of about 500 million euros.
In 2015, the bank admitted that it had used flawed accounting practices, and its share prices have plummeted. The timing of Ross’s sales and the bank’s downfall raise questions around whether he as a board member was privy to its bookkeeping and the right time to get rid of his stake.
This is not the first financial trouble Ross and stumbled into since joining the Trump team.
Last month, Forbes booted Ross off its list of the richest people in the U.S. for the first time in 13 years, alleging that he lied about his net worth by more than $2 billion. He also denied wrongdoing after the Paradise Papers release revealed he had significant holdings in a Russian shipping company partially owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law. Both incidents have led Senate Democrats to call for an investigation into Ross’s finances.