Donald Trump's US Treasury Secretary: Things you may not know about ex-Goldman banker Steven Mnuchin

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren last year put out a statement calling Mr Mnuchin ‘the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis’

Josie Cox
Business Editor
Tuesday 14 February 2017 14:47 GMT
At Goldman Sachs, Mr Mnuchin dealt with collateralised debt obligations and credit default swaps, which arguably played a major part in the 2008 financial crisis
At Goldman Sachs, Mr Mnuchin dealt with collateralised debt obligations and credit default swaps, which arguably played a major part in the 2008 financial crisis (AFP/Getty)

Donald Trump has sworn in his new Treasury Secretary. He’s a former hedge-fund manager with an unusual name and a semi-famous girlfriend. He's helped finance films like Avatar and The Lego Batman Movie and he led Mr Trump’s fundraising efforts during the campaign.

He was also once described as the “Forest Gump of the financial crisis”. Here’s what else you need to know about Steven Mnuchin.

He’s got quite a history on Wall Street

Mr Mnuchin (pronounced min-new-chin) was on Monday night confirmed by the Senate as Treasury Secretary with 53 to 77 votes. He joins Mr Trump’s team from the world of banking.

Mr Mnuchin spent more than a decade and a half at Wall Street bellweather Goldman Sachs, following in the footsteps of his father who was reportedly spent around three decades working for the bank.

During his time there, he worked in the mortgage department, dealing with products such as collateralised debt obligations and credit default swaps, which arguably played a major part in the 2008 financial crisis.

According to Business Insider, Mr Mnuchin left Goldman Sachs in 2012 to start a hedge fund with his former roommate from Yale, before later jointly creating a hedge fund with billionaire financier George Soros.

In 2009, during the thick of the global financial crisis, Mr Mnuchin led a group of high-flying financial types who bought a troubled housing lender called IndyMac. They renamed the company OneWest and Mr Mnuchin became chairman.

The company was heavily criticised in the aftermath of the crisis. Two California housing watchdogs filed a federal complaint against the company, according to Business Insider, accusing it of violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against blacks, Hispanics and Asians. OneWest was eventually sold for a lot more than it was bought.

His dealings in the world of finance won’t easily be forgotten.

According to CNN, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren last year put out a damming statement on Mr Mnuchin calling him “the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis”.

“He managed to participate in all the worst practices on Wall Street,” she said. “He spent two decades at Goldman Sachs helping the bank peddle the same kind of mortgage products that blew up the economy and sucked down billions in taxpayer bailout money before he moved on to run a bank that was infamous for aggressively foreclosing on families.”

He’s no stranger to the film industry

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mr Mnuchin in 2004 started a company called Dune Capital Management which has helped finance a whole slew of successful films, including The Devil Wears Prada, the X-Men franchise and Avatar.

According to the publication, Dune has a deal with movie financing company RatPac to invest several hundred million dollars in most Warner Bros movies.

He’s a regular at the star-studded Cannes Film Festival and other glitzy events and even had a cameo role as “Merrill Lynch executive” in Warren Beatty’s film Rules Don't Apply, which came out last year.

He is engaged to a Scottish actress whose memoir of her travels in Zambia didn’t go down too well

Mr Mnuchin was married to Heather Mnuchin, with who he has three children, for 15 years before they divorced in 2009, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Since last year he’s been engaged to Louise Linton, a Scottish actress who has 19 acting credits on the online movie database IMDb. But to many she’s likely to be best known for an episode last year when she attracted waves of criticism and ridicule after a self-published memoir about her time in Zambia.

It was widely mocked for its clichéd descriptions of poverty and danger in the country. Quartz reported that the public-shaming became so fierce that the book was actually withdrawn from Amazon.

Zambians reacted particularly harshly Ms Linton’s account, taking to social media with the hashtag #LintonLies to scorn what they described as vastly misguided accounts of her time in the country.

Mr Mnuchin, who according to The Times has a 20,000 sq ft mansion in Bel Air, California and a fortune believed to run to several hundred million pounds, has boasted publicly of plans to wed Ms Linton on the White House lawn.

If the nuptials are indeed held there, it would be the 18th marriage ceremony to be conducted there with the most recent being the marriage of Hillary Clinton’s brother Tony Rodham in the Rose Garden in 1994, according to The Times.

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