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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Federal ethics agency refuses to certify financial disclosure from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

Wilbur RossJeff Daniels
CNBC.com
Originally published February 19, 2019

The government's top ethics watchdog disclosed Tuesday that it had refused to certify a financial disclosure report from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

In a filing, the Office of Government Ethics said it wouldn't certify the 2018 annual filing by Ross because he didn't divest stock in a bank despite stating otherwise. The move could have legal ramifications for Ross and add to pressure for a federal probe.

"The report is not certified," OGE Director Emory Rounds said in a filing, explaining that a previous document the watchdog received from Ross indicated he "no longer held BankUnited stock." However, Rounds said an Oct. 31 document "demonstrates that he did" still hold the shares and as a result, "the filer was therefore not in compliance with his ethics agreement at the time of the report."

A federal ethics agreement required that Ross divest stock worth between $1,000 and $15,000 in BankUnited by the end of May 2017, or within 90 days of the Senate confirming him to the Commerce post. He previously reported selling the stock twice, first in May 2017 and again in August 2018 as part of an annual disclosure required by OGE.

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