Trump Treasury Pick Defends Offshore Investments, Lending Practices

Trump Treasury pick defends offshore investments, lending practices

WASHINGTON, , (Pakistan Point News - APP - 20th Jan, 2017 ) - President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to head the US Treasury on Thursday fended off questions about his role in offshore investment firms and his real-estate holdings as well as his lending practices. In his confirmation hearing, Wall Street banker and Hollywood financier Steven Mnuchin defended his leadership of a bank accused of predatory lending and aggressive foreclosure practices.

Mnuchin conceded that he failed to disclose that he was the director of investment funds incorporated in Caribbean tax havens, nor that he had real estate holdings of about $100 million, when making financial disclosures to lawmakers last month. "My lawyer, who is quite sophisticated in this stuff and has done this for many nominees before, believed that we filled out the form correctly," he told the Senate Finance Committee. Mnuchin also said his investment firms in the Caribbean enclaves of Anguilla and the Cayman Islands had been created to serve clients who were non-profits and pensions.

"These entities were either taxed as US corporations or US partnerships and in no way did I use them whatsoever to avoid any US taxes." If confirmed, Mnuchin will inherit a US agency with immense power over taxation, bank regulation, sovereign debt, and the enforcement of policies to combat corruption and terrorism. But in Thursday's hearings, opposition Democrats sought to paint Mnuchin, 54, and his Wall Street career as the embodiment of many of the things Donald Trump campaigned against, including Mnuchin's lengthy stint at investment bank Goldman Sachs and at OneWest, the bank he co-founded.

OneWest, which he created out of the ashes of the 2008 mortgage crisis, secured an agreement for the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission to absorb a large share of the losses from a loan portfolio it inherited from a failed predecessor, IndyMac. Critics accuse the bank of generating profits through improper and aggressive foreclosures and of forcing borrowers out of their homes. Mnuchin defended himself saying he was wrongly accused and that his bank did all it could to arrange loan modifications for as many homeowners as possible.