The SEC filing also said Diamond S Shipping vessels aren’t necessarily prohibited from calling in locales where sanctions and embargoes apply. In the filing, the company said it believed it was in compliance with all applicable sanctions, embargoes, laws and regulations.
In a statement to the Center for Public Integrity, the company said its “charter agreements expressly require compliance with all applicable laws, specifically prohibit trading in violation of applicable U.S. or EU sanctions.” The company added that isn’t aware of any instances when its charterers have violated any applicable laws.
Diamond S Shipping, to be sure, does represent only a small part of Ross’ wealth.
Ross, 79, is sometimes known as the “king of bankruptcy” for his history of investing in ailing companies. And he stands out, even on Trump’s gold-leafed roster of wealthy Cabinet members, as a business titan at least as successful as Trump himself.
Although Ross agreed to divest the vast majority of his assets to take the job heading commerce, the financial disclosure he filed with federal regulators lists numerous opaque offshore entities that make it nearly impossible to independently ascertain all the underlying assets and all his business partners.
The Commerce Department traditionally plays a role in trade negotiations, handling trade enforcement and promoting U.S. exports, among a grab bag of other duties that includes administering the U.S. Census and conducting oceanic research.
As Trump’s Commerce secretary, Ross will have an even larger role in shaping U.S. trade policy than usual.
“Mr. Ross not only has negotiated some very good deals over his lifetime, he’s also the person who worked closely with the president-elect on crafting his trade policy,” Jason Miller, a Trump transition spokesman, said in December. “Mr. Ross will be playing a big role in any trade particulars in this administration.”
In response to questions during his confirmation hearing about his role on trade policy, Ross said he expects to work collaboratively with the yet-to-be-confirmed U.S. trade representative, traditionally the administration’s lead person on trade, and Peter Navarro, the director of the National Trade Council. Together, they will work “to bring all the intellectual resources and experience that we can” to trade policy, Ross said.
Ross said renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement would be a priority.
But among all the investments Trump’s commerce secretary could hold, an interest in a transoceanic shipping company is perhaps the most incongruous given Trump’s decidedly protectionist trade agenda.
Trump regularly bashes a handful of foreign countries as enemies of America’s financial or national security interests.
In a 2015 book released during his presidential campaign, Trump wrote: “There are people who wish I wouldn’t refer to China as our enemy. But that’s exactly what they are.”
China, Trump continues, has cost the U.S. tens of thousands of jobs. Ross himself has called China “the most protectionist of the large countries” and signaled during his confirmation hearing that he would push China on free trade.
“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs,” Trump declared in his inaugural speech.