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REGULATION/LEGISLATION

Steven Mnuchin to divest stakes in 43 investments to avoid conflict

Steven Mnuchin
Steven Mnuchin

U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin, who would be among the richest men to hold the job this century, plans to divest his interests in 43 companies and investments to avoid conflicts.

A 42-page disclosure report and five-page ethics agreement released Wednesday by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics showed Mr. Mnuchin's assets and income included more than $50 million in CIT Group. The filings show he holds $1 million to $5 million in Goldman Sachs Group (GS) common shares, more than $1 million in Berkshire Hathaway Class A stock and as much as $1 million in shares of Blackstone Group. They are among the entities he plans to divest within 90 days of his confirmation, according to his ethics papers.

The disclosure form reports a range of values for Mr. Mnuchin's assets: $118.2 million to roughly $391.6 million. But that range is limited by the fact that Mr. Mnuchin disclosed only minimum values for some of his stakes — including his common shares in CIT.

OGE requires nominees to report sources of compensation above $5,000 in a year for the last two calendar years before filing. Other assets, income and retirement accounts are reported for the preceding calendar year.

Should Mr. Mnuchin be confirmed, he will be among the most wealthy U.S. Treasury chiefs in recent years. Jacob J. Lew and Timothy Geithner, Mr. Mnuchin's two immediate predecessors, each had assets between about $700,000 and $1.8 million just before they became Treasury secretaries, according to their financial disclosures in the years they took office.

Henry Paulson, who served as Treasury secretary from 2006 to 2009, amassed a fortune of more than $500 million in a career at Goldman Sachs.

Mr. Mnuchin is one of the titans of business tapped by President-elect Donald Trump whose financial disclosures will get close scrutiny during Senate confirmation hearings. No date has been set yet for Mr. Mnuchin's hearing. While the 54-year-old former Goldman Sachs partner, who has no government experience, will rely on a Republican majority for support, he can expect resistance from Democrats over his deep roots in Wall Street. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called Mr. Mnuchin and several other Trump nominees “troublesome.”

The financial disclosures, which Mr. Mnuchin signed Dec. 16, show that his income for 2016 was as much as $24 million, based on a calculation by Bloomberg. Mr. Mnuchin also owns a multimillion-dollar stake in a Willem de Kooning oil painting.

The disclosures reveal that Mr. Mnuchin may have benefited following his comments in a Nov. 30 interview that the government should exit control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The remarks sent shares of the mortgage-finance giants soaring. Mr. Mnuchin's filings show he's invested as much as $2 million in Paulson Advantage LP, which holds a stake in Fannie and Freddie.

The Paulson Advantage holdings are among 43 investments that he has pledged to divest within 90 days of being confirmed. The value of these divestitures is more than $75 million, based on Bloomberg calculations.

He plans to retain an unpaid position as president of Steven T. Mnuchin Inc., a vehicle used to manage some of his investments.