Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin has built up a very diversified portfolio of assets during his years in both the worlds of finance and entertainment. Now he has to sell off the bulk of it in the span of a few months.
Government conflict of interests laws require cabinet secretaries to sell off assets that could be affected by decisions they make in office. Filings released Wednesday show that Mnuchin will be selling stakes in 43 different investments.
But the letter says he will keep in place an investment management entity he controls and completely owns, known as Steven T. Mnuchin Inc. He did not disclose what investments the entity holds, nor did he say he would dispose of any of them. Mnuchin did say he won't participate in any decision that could affect those holdings.
Democratic critics will surely have lots of questions about this investment vehicle during his upcoming confirmation hearing.
"I've never seen that before. He needs to disclose what's in this entity that has his name on it," said Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. "And then the decision needs to be made to sell everything in it, or turn it over to a blind trustee. He cannot keep conflict-creating assets in this entity."
Mnuchin did say that he will sell the shares he currently holds in a number of blue chip companies. These include stakes worth at least $1 million each in Berkshire Hathaway (, )Goldman Sachs (, )Microsoft (Tech30) and , Verizon (Tech30). ,
His largest holding appears to be more than $50 million worth of common stock in CIT Group (. Mnuchin sold the bank he led, OneWest, to CIT for $3.4 billion in 2015. The filing discloses that CIT is holding back $2 million that it owes to a trust Mnuchin controls "in order to cover certain contingent liabilities" of that merger. )
The details of what those liabilities were not revealed in the filing. However CIT has disclosed that the department of Housing and Urban Development is investigating the foreclosure practices of OneWest's reverse mortgage business, and it has set aside about $500 million to settle that investigation.
Also among the assets Mnunchin will sell are shares of Lehman Brothers, the Wall Street firm whose 2008 bankruptcy helped spark the financial markets meltdown. His holdings of the near worthless stock are valued at between $15,001 and $50,000, suggesting that he might have taken a much larger hit at the time of the bankruptcy filing.
He will also pull out of his investment fund, Dune Capital Management, as well as the real estate partnerships and movie investment vehicle he operates with the Dune name. His holdings in the real estate partnerships are estimated to be worth at least $2 million.
Mnunchin reported holding $25 million in cash in various accounts. He also is an art collector, holding an untitled oil painting by Willem de Kooning worth more than $1 million and three other pieces of art held for investment worth at least $700,000 between them. He will not have to sell off any of the art.
--Jill Disis contributed to this report.