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US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stole $120 million from ex-associates

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross could rank “among the biggest grifters in American history” for stealing millions of dollars from former business associates, according to a report.

Ross, who founded and formerly headed private-equity company WL Ross & Co., wrongly siphoned or “outright stole” more than $120 million, the Forbes magazine reported Tuesday, citing 21 people who know Ross.

Among the charges, three former executives at the private-equity company say Ross and his firm charged at least $48 million in improper fees, and pocketed the money.

A lawsuit about the matter remains active. Ross called the case “without merit” in a statement to Forbes.

Ross’s firm was also charging investors on money that it had lost, according to five former employees, allegedly even charging fees on one investment that was essentially worthless.

In a statement regarding management fee issues, Ross said “no regulatory agency has ever asserted such charges or any other charges against me and there is no basis for any such allegations.”

Ross also said that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had “never initiated any enforcement action against me.” But Forbes noted that he did not mention a $2.3 million fine the SEC levied against his firm in 2016.

In the Forbes article, an unnamed official in the Commerce Department called other parts of the report “petty nonsense.”