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Here are some of the gifts received by wealthy Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross got elaborate gifts
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross received elaborate gifts 05:43

From a Thai tea cup set (that arrived broken) and chocolate made from camels' milk, to a gold box, coin and trinkets, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has received an eclectic range of gifts, according to a list obtained by CBS News through a public records request. 

The list includes the exotic -- Romania gold coin, a dozen small gold-covered Zodiac figurines -- as well as the more quotidian -- an assortment of books, 24 avocados, a box of dates, some pens and bath soaps.

Ross, who has been caught napping during the president's speeches and during meetings, also received three bottles of instant coffee. And he's been presented with a "giant-print" reference Bible. Another gift giver settled on the classic choice of champagne - a 2006 bottle of Dom Perignon (which can be found online for about $130 to $150).

The gift list reveals hints of who, at home and abroad, may be trying to curry favor with Ross, who took office in February 2017. 

Wilbur Ross Delivers Remarks At Commerce Department Investment Summit
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Win McNamee / Getty Images

The Commerce Department provided few details about who sent the gifts and their value, but some descriptions point to foreign governments in China, Thailand, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, Ghana, Uzbekistan, Japan, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates.

Other gifts include an AmCham (American Chamber of Commerce) crystal business card holder, and a "thumb drive with Secretary Ross speech and some other ceremony highlights from Tenaris Day." Tenaris is a pipe supplier for oil and gas companies. 

As Commerce Secretary, Ross plays a key role in crafting U.S. trade policy and amplifying American products and industries. 

"Any of the gifts that indicate that they are made of gold or silver--that would suggest that they have some significant and intrinsic value," said Virginia Cantor, chief ethics counsel for the advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "You definitely need transparency in order to be able to determine whether it would present a potential conflict of interest." 

A Commerce Department spokesperson tells CBS News high-value gifts are appraised and sold, according to federal regulations on gifting limits.

Ross has previously faced criticism for financial disclosure inaccuracies and concerns about his compliance with conflict of interest laws

The 81-year-old investor, known as the "king of bankruptcy" for his predilection for buying bankrupt companies, has also been lampooned as financially out-of-touch with most Americans, after suggesting in January furloughed federal workers should take out bank loans to pay their bills. 

Though Ross has claimed he's a billionaire, Forbes removed him in 2017 from its list of billionaires after it said financial disclosure forms showed he had less than $700 million in assets.

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