Wilbur Ross' ownership of Diamond S under scrutiny

Several critical observers question US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross' continued ownership of product tanker carrier Diamond S Shipping. The carrier's ties to China in particular are being criticized by ethics experts who point to possible conflicts of interest.

Photo: Evan Vucci/AP/Polfoto/Arkiv

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross' ownership of product tanker carrier Diamond S Shipping, a leading oil product carrier with a fleet of 34 Medium Range (MR) vessels, continues to raise ethical questions in US media.

When investor and equity fund owner Ross was sworn in as Secretary of Commerce in the new Trump administration, Ross agreed to hand off some of his investments in a series of companies.

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But Ross intends to maintain his ownership of Diamond S Shipping, and this raises a series of ethical questions, according to the Center for Public Integrity, an independent, investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.

An article published on NBC News concludes that Diamond S Shipping's vessels are sailing under Chinese flag, while the carrier also has ties to a Chinese investment fund, even though Ross is viewed as an unusually strong hardliner in terms of US trade policies.

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A spokesman from the US Department of Commerce has declined to answer a series of questions related to Ross' investment in Diamond S Shipping, but writes in an email that lawyers specialized in ethical matters are continuously advising the Secretary of Commerce in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

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There have been divided opinions about this situation. Ross' investment in the carrier only accounts for a small part of his combined investments, and thus plays a less important part, according to some observers, while others, including former advisor to President George W. Bush, note that the carrier could become problematic in terms of US laws concerning possible conflicts of interest in politics.

Back in 2014 Ross called off a planned IPO of Diamond S Shipping in New York, claiming that the capital market mood was too weak at the time.

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