Steve Mnuchin faced serious questions on his offshore accounts, his handling of “Avatar” profits and even “Octomom” Nadya Suleman’s mortgage loan at his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday to become Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary.
Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive and financier who has also dabbled in Hollywood by financing movies and investing in entities like Relativity Media, came under fire from some Democratic senators.
He has drawn fire for his management of the failed subprime mortgage lender IndyMac, which he bought in 2009 and ran for six years under the name OneWest Bank. During that time, he modified more than 100,000 of the country’s most troubled loans in the midst of the housing crisis.
“It has been said that I ran a ‘foreclosure machine’ — this is not true,” Mnuchin said, though he acknowledged that mistakes were made in terms of some inappropriate foreclosures. “There were some issues and we paid money to those people to make them whole and I earnestly feel terrible for any mistakes of the bank,” Mnuchin told the committee.
“The most troubling loan we had was actually to the Octomom,” he said. “That was a terrible situation and we worked very, very hard to move her to another home that they could afford.”
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden grilled Mnuchin about his use of off-shore accounts in the Cayman Islands, arguing that he used international tax law loopholes to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes. “Profits from ‘Avatar’ were funneled through an offshore web,” he said at one point in the hearing of the Senate Finance Committee.
“In no way did I use [offshore entities] to avoid U.S. taxes,” Mnuchin said. “I can assure you I pay all my taxes as was required.”