Ross Says Didn't Knowingly Lend to Sanctioned Russians at Bank

  • Commerce secretary was on Bank of Cyprus board, loan committee
  • Ross says no big loans, deposits from parties under sanctions

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he’s not aware of the Bank of Cyprus Pcl having any significant dealings with Russians or other individuals and entities under U.S. sanctions while he was on its board of directors.

Ross, 79, resigned as vice chairman and member of the bank’s board on March 1 after he was confirmed to his position in President Donald Trump’s cabinet. Ross said in response to questions about the bank’s business with Russian entities that no large loans he approved knowingly went to a person under sanctions.

“None of those loans went to anybody with sanctions that I’m aware of,” Ross said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “Nor were there any great big deposits from sanctioned parties that came in while I was involved that I was I aware of.’’

Asked whether the bank provided any loans to Trump’s campaign, either directly or through another financial institution, Ross said, “certainly not to my knowledge.”

Five Democratic senators have been asking Ross since February to respond to questions about his and the Cyprus bank’s ties to Russia and Trump’s campaign. Their most recent letter to Ross was on March 10.

With Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled meet with Trump for the first time this week, at the president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Ross declined to address Trump’s campaign promise to have Beijing labeled a currency manipulator. That determination lies with the Treasury Department, not Commerce, Ross said.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television on Friday, Ross said that the U.S. is “about the least protectionist” and China is “one of the most protectionist” of major countries.

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