“Bro, do you even billionaire?”
While many Americans suffer from status anxiety, much of it related to personal wealth, there has to be a special level of shame and humiliation to getting called out as a non-billionaire after masquerading as a member of the ten-digit club.
And it has to be a hundred times worse when your boss picked you, in part, for the financial acumen which possession of such a fortune suggests.
Thus is the ignominy facing Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, whose personal fortune was estimated, until recently, at a respectable $2.9 billion — but turns out to have a paltry net worth of less than $700 million. That’s according to Forbes magazine, which has unceremoniously booted Ross from its iconic “The Forbes 400” list of the country’s richest people.
The pub claims previous estimates were based on a web of lies and misinformation woven by Ross over the years.
Forbes, which has been ranking America’s super-rich since 1982, examined the Commerce Secretary’s financial declarations as he prepared to take up his official role earlier this year. On discovering that Ross’ total listed assets were considerably lower than previously claimed, the magazine’s reporters made inquiries.
They were informed that Ross had moved $2 billion into family trusts, prior to his role in public service. Except it's B.S.
In a scathing article published online and in the upcoming December 12, 2017 print issue, Forbes argues that Ross never deserved a spot on the billionaire list, but maintained the elaborate deception to flatter his own ego, as well as burnish the image of his private equity firm, WL Ross & Co.
According to Forbes, the expose is “based on our interviews with 10 former employees at Ross’ private-equity firm, WL Ross & Co., who all confirmed parts of the same story line…” Among other things, they all spoke of “his penchant for misleading extended to colleagues and investors, resulting in millions of dollars in fines, tens of millions refunded to backers and numerous lawsuits.”
Ross has led a relatively quiet existence for a cabinet member in the Trump administration, and it’s not clear what impact, if any, the embarrassing revelations published by Forbes will have on his official position.
However, his appointment was justified, in part, by reference to his success as an entrepreneur in the private sector. The President places a premium on employees who project an image and appearance of success.
On that basis, anything is possible.