Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report

Greg Nash

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is reportedly launching a new investment fund that is expected to be partially backed by reserves in the Persian Gulf region. 

The Washington Post reported the plans Tuesday, citing two people familiar with the project.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private planning, added that the former Trump administration official had begun hiring for the Washington-based investment fund, which they added will be centered around financial technology, entertainment and other potential sectors. 

The report comes after Mnuchin in his final weeks in office organized a round of trips in the Middle East and North Africa, with visits to Sudan, Egypt, Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 

Mnuchin also planned to visit Kuwait, but cut his trip short amid the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot. 

According to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, which analyzes public asset owners, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia control some of the region’s largest investment funds. 

The Post reported that Mnuchin did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The reported move by Mnuchin, who previously worked as a Goldman Sachs banker and hedge fund manager prior to joining the Trump administration in 2017, has prompted questions from some on the ties between former Trump officials and private businesses. 

Noah Bookbinder, president of nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told the Post, “The fact that there were policies that were favorable to countries that now might benefit him in a business matter is troubling, and does raise questions about whether even the prospect of future business interests might have impacted decision-making, even if there were no specific plans in place.” 

Trump throughout his presidency adopted policies toward Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries that were largely viewed as transactional, including promoting arms sales and aligning himself with the nations to counter the influence of Iran in the region.

Mnuchin himself traveled to the region in October with a delegation to expand the commercial ties after the signing of the Abraham Accords by Bahrain, Israel and the UAE. During that time, Mnuchin joined officials on the first direct commercial flight from Israel to Bahrain. 

Last week, Bloomberg News reported that Mnuchin has started offering speaking engagements, charging about $250,000 for speeches in person and between $75,000 and $100,000 for virtual addresses. 

The outlet noted that Mnuchin had hired the Harry Walker Agency to manage his speaking engagements. Mnuchin’s bio on the agency’s website states that the former Trump administration official “was critical in helping pass economic policy,” and “is often sought out to speak about where our fiscal and economic policies are headed, given the current climate.”

The Hill has reached out to the Harry Walker Agency for information. 

Tags Bloomberg Department of the Treasury Egypt Gulf States Hedge fund Investment fund Iran Israel Kuwait Qatar Saudi Arabia Steven Mnuchin Sudan The Washington Post Treasury Secretary United Arab Emirates

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