CREW filed complaints with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) today requesting they investigate whether Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross violated the STOCK Act or other insider trading laws and made false statements to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE).
The STOCK Act prohibits executive branch employees from using “nonpublic information derived from such person’s position as an executive branch employee or gained from the performance of such person’s official responsibilities as a means for making a private profit.” In addition, securities laws prohibit executing trades based on inside information, such as information obtained by virtue of one’s government position. Secretary Ross appears to have engaged in a short sale of Navigator stock, in order to profit from a dropping stock price while knowing that the New York Times was close to publishing a story about his dealings with Navigator Holdings and its ties to Putin’s closest allies.
Additionally, federal law prohibits anyone from knowingly and willfully making “any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch. There is substantial evidence that Secretary Ross may have knowingly and willfully made false or fraudulent statements when he certified to OGE that he had completed divestiture of all required assets, then six weeks later sold substantial amounts of Invesco, Ltd. stock — an asset he was required to divest.
Therefore, CREW requests the DOJ & OGE investigate whether Secretary Ross knowingly and willfully misrepresented the status of his divestiture on his November 1, 2017 ethics certification and engaged in unlawful conduct by shorting Navigator stock after learning of an imminent negative news story.