Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is planning to launch an investment fund backed by some of the Middle East nations he frequently traveled to while in office, a move that could add to scrutiny of ties between the Trump administration and private businesses.
It is expected to raise money from sovereign wealth funds throughout the Persian Gulf, a region Mnuchin made a series of official government trips to as Treasury secretary.
Mnuchin worked as a Goldman Sachs banker, a hedge fund manager and a Hollywood film producer prior to joining the Trump administration in 2017.
“What else do you do after being Treasury secretary? You give speeches and join boards,” a former White House official told Forbes. “But there’s a reticence at this moment to put the Trump administration on boards. It’s always tougher for Republicans but this is more pronounced from big companies wanting to put Trump administration officials on boards.”
According to past readouts from the Treasury Department, Mnuchin traveled to the Middle East as part of efforts to manage economic relationships and combat financial terrorism abroad. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — where some of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the region are located — were among some of the Persian Gulf nations Mnuchin visited in the weeks before his term ended in January. The cost of the trips, which were taken on military aircraft, raised scrutiny from government watchdogs, lawmakers and the public.
Bloomberg reported last week that Mnuchin has started to offer speeches at engagements for $250,000 in person and between $75,000 and $100,000 virtually. Harry Walker, the management agency for Mnuchin, said on its website that he is “often sought out to speak about where our fiscal and economic policies are headed, given the current climate.”