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US commerce chief divesting Russia-linked shipping interest

WASHINGTON: United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has divested his interests in oil tanker company Diamond S Shipping and is in the process of selling off his holdings in another shipping firm, Navigator Holdings, a Trump administration official said.

Mr Ross had originally intended to retain his shipping interests following his confirmation in February.

But the 79-year-old investor came under criticism after disclosures on Sunday that one of Navigator's major clients is the Russian gas company Sibur, a firm whose owners include members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

Information about the business ties between Navigator, which operates gas-carrying ships, and Sibur was based on leaked documents from offshore law firm Appleby that are part of the so-called Paradise Papers, which show details of business dealings by wealthy people and institutions ranging from Mr Ross to Britain's Queen Elizabeth and trading firm Glencore.

"He began divesting his Navigator interests in May," the official said of Mr Ross.

"He is nearing completion of that process."

An Office of Government Ethics disclosure filed by Mr Ross on June 20 showed that he sold an interest in Navigator valued at US$15,001 (S$20,450) to US$50,000 on May 30. - REUTERS

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