WASHINGTON — Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin defended his ties to offshore business entities and his management of a controversial California bank during a testy confirmation hearing on Thursday.

Speaking before the Senate Finance Committee, Mnuchin said businesses in the Cayman Islands and Anguilla revealed in his financial disclosures were not used for his personal benefit but served nonprofits and pensions.

“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.”

A memo compiled by Democratic committee staffers obtained by The Washington Post showed Mnuchin initially omitted some of those entities — as well as more than $100 million in personal assets — from his nomination paperwork. Mnuchin has revised the documents.

According to the memo, Mnuchin submitted answers Dec. 19 to a standard committee questionnaire seeking information about his financial and business interests. At the time, Mnuchin verified that those responses were accurate and complete.

Mnuchin at first failed to disclose his role as director of Dune Capital International, which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, the document shows. He also holds positions in nine other business entities and three trusts, including one connected to Sears chief executive Edward Lampert, Mnuchin’s former college roommate.

According to the memo, Mnuchin characterized the missing information as inadvertent mistakes, and he updated his answers to the committee’s questionnaire on Saturday.

Mnuchin, a veteran Wall Street investor, has also come under fire for his 2009 purchase of failed subprime mortgage lender IndyMac from the federal government. Mnuchin renamed the bank OneWest and ran it for six years. During that time, he said, the bank modified over 100,000 of the country’s most troubled loans and saved thousands of jobs in the process.

“I have been maligned as taking advantage of others’ hardships in order to earn a buck,” Mnuchin told lawmakers Thursday. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Mnuchin purchased OneWest for $1.6 billion and sold the bank to CIT Group in 2015 for $3.4 billion

The hearing began with a sharply combative tone before Mnuchin even began speaking — an unusual departure for what is typically a staid and wonkish committee. Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, decried “stupid arguments” against Mnuchin’s qualifications to manage the nation’s finances and accused Democrats of obstructing President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees. Ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., shot back by accusing Mnuchin of using loopholes in international tax law to shield millions of dollars from taxation.

Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, Kan., then interjected with a suggestion that Wyden take a Valium, an attempt at what he called a “pinprick” of levity. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, objected to the remark, forcing Hatch to gavel the committee to order.

Mnuchin is one of several Cabinet nominees facing a rocky path to confirmation. Democrats have seized on the vast wealth amassed by Trump’s advisers — not just Mnuchin but also his picks to lead the Commerce, Education and State departments, among others — as undermining the working-class support that fueled the president-elect’s surprise victory.

“The Treasury secretary ought to be somebody who works on behalf of all Americans, including those who are still waiting for the economic recovery to show up in their communities,” Wyden said. “When I look at Mr. Mnuchin’s background, it’s a stretch to find evidence he’d be that kind of Treasury secretary.”

Mnuchin attended Yale University and began his career at Goldman Sachs, where his father was a senior partner, before leaving the investment bank to form his own private equity fund, Dune Capital Management. After purchasing IndyMac, Mnuchin became a Hollywood financier, backing well-known films such as “Avatar.” He has not previously served in government.

At several points during his hearing, Mnuchin appeared stung by the sharp questioning from lawmakers. During an exchange with Brown over his role in foreclosures, Mnuchin pushed back at the senator.

“If you know the answer, why did you ask me?” Mnuchin said. “It seems to me with all due respect that you just want to shoot questions at me.”


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