Steven Mnuchin, film producer, Goldman Sachs veteran and hedge fund manager, has been named President-elect Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary. Reports of his appointment surfaced on Tuesday, with Mnuchin confirming the news on CNBC Wednesday morning.
Mnuchin was Trump’s finance chairman during his presidential campaign and is said to have impressed him since he joined the team in May.
In the entertainment industry, he’s known as co-founder of Dune Capital Management and chairman of Dune Entertainment Partners, which funded films like “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Suicide Squad” and “Avatar.” He founded Dune Capital Management in 2004 and invested in films by Twentieth Century Fox. He then went on to merge Dune Entertainment with Brett Ratner and James Packer’s RatPac to create Rat-Pac Dune Entertainment, which co-produced films like “American Sniper,” “The LEGO Movie” and “Sully.” In 2008, he and a few investors bought IndyMac, a California bank, and renamed it OneWest, for which he served as chairman before it was sold last year.
His controversy stems from becoming co-chairman of Relativity Media in 2014 and his “quiet departure” two months before Relativity’s bankruptcy filing. Mnuchin invested around $80 million in Relativity and then the company started to run out of money. A Variety article, via Filmmaker Magazine, examined how, in the weeks before the bankruptcy, Relativity paid $50 million to OneWest bank, draining the accounts.
“Two individuals who had studied the $50 million in payments to OneWest Bank argue that the lender was given a clear preference when it drained two of the few flush accounts Relativity controlled, as others went unpaid,” the article stated. “‘This is an obvious case of a preference,’ said an attorney for one creditor owed millions by Relativity. Mnuchin was ‘chairman of the company that is now bankrupt. And at the end of the day, the bank he is affiliated with sweeps up every dime from these two accounts. That is money the company could have used to preserve itself.’”
Relativity chairman Ryan Kavanaugh, who considered Mnuchin one of his “best friends,” then blamed him for “violating bankruptcy procedures,” according to a New York Post article.
“Relativity explicitly blames the bank, founded by Steve Mnuchin, who until recently was one of studio founder Ryan Kavanaugh’s best friends and a company director, for violating bankruptcy procedures and for delaying the release of a movie recently considered to be the studio’s savior, a letter and an email from the company obtained by The Post reveal.”