By David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has pledged to divest at least $94 million worth of investments in 43 entities to avoid conflicts of interest, according to an ethics agreement released on Wednesday.
Mnuchin said in a 42-page financial disclosure report that these investments include more than $50 million worth of common shares of CIT Group Inc, the financial services group that acquired his OneWest Bank in 2015.
However, his CIT shares are likely worth more. They are listed in the “Over $50 million” category, the highest amount required on the asset valuation form for presidential political appointees. The investor group he led sold OneWest in 2015 for $3.4 billion, seven years after they purchased the assets of failed mortgage lender IndyMac Bank for $1.55 billion.
Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive and Hollywood film financier, added that he resigned his position as a CIT director in December as part of his agreement with the Treasury’s assistant general counsel. He pledged to divest Goldman Sachs shares worth over $5 million and Goldman Sachs Treasury investments worth over $25 million.
The disclosure forms, which allow a range for the value of assets, reveal that Mnuchin is worth at least $118 million to around $392 million, making him he richest Treasury secretary since his former boss, ex-Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson, who served under George W. Bush and was worth over $700 million at the time he took office in 2006.
By contrast, President Barack Obama’s Treasury secretaries, Tim Geithner and Jack Lew, were each worth between about $740,000 and $1.7 million when they took office.
Under Mnuchin’s ethics agreement, he will refrain from any decisions involving CIT Group until August 2018, when a final payment of at least $5 million from CIT Group is made as part off a “holdback” agreement related to the OneWest merger.
Among other assets disclosed by Mnuchin are a small airplane he operates for business and personal use, and an interest in a 1978 Willem de Kooning oil painting, “Untitled III”, valued between $5 million and $25 million.
Mnuchin also said in his ethics agreement that prior to or upon Senate confirmation he would fully disclose the assets of his fiancee, Scottish-born actress Louise Linton, as if they were married and pledged to refrain from any matter that affects her finances.
The documents are on file with the Office of Government Ethics.
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by James Dalgleish and Frances Kerry)