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Banker-financier Mnuchin sworn in as US Treasury chief

Updated: 09:45 16-02-2017

The US Senate on Monday confirmed Wall Street banker Steven Mnuchin to be the next secretary of the US Treasury, overcoming fierce Democratic objection of yet another nominee to President Donald Trump's cabinet.

Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive, fills a crucial position in Trump's economic team. The new president has criticized opponents for delaying his nominees.

He was promptly sworn in at the White House by Vice President Mike Pence, in a ceremony also attended by Trump and Mnuchin's fiancee, Louise Linton, a Scottish actress.

Trump praised his new Treasury chief as a "financial legend with a track record of success."

Democrats have put up roadblocks to nearly all of Trump's cabinet picks to date, a sign of the political rancor infusing a confirmation process that until recent years exhibited far more bipartisanship.

Republicans, who maintain a majority in the Senate, have managed to hold a united front and confirm each nominee who has come to the floor for a vote.

Senators confirmed Mnuchin, an investment banker and Hollywood financier who also served as finance chairman of Trump's presidential campaign, on a party line vote of 53 to 48. Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the only crossover vote.

Mnuchin takes over a US agency with power over taxation, bank regulation, sovereign debt, and policies to combat corruption and terrorism finance.

- 'Foreclosure machine' -

During his confirmation hearing, Mnuchin fended off queries about his previously undisclosed offshore investment firms and real estate holdings, and defended his bank's foreclosure practices despite being accused by Democrats of acting as "a foreclosure machine."

Democrats sought to paint Mnuchin, 54, as the embodiment of many of the things Trump railed against in his campaign, including Mnuchin's lengthy stint at investment bank Goldman Sachs and OneWest, the bank he co-founded that has been accused of profiting from the 2008 housing crisis.

"Mr Mnuchin's business record tells us he was directly engaged in the predatory practices that led to our financial recession and destroyed the life savings of countless American working families," number two Senate Democrat Dick Durbin said in a statement.

Senator Robert Menendez said Mnuchin "was part of the cadre of corporate raiders that brought our economy to its knees."

Critics such as Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, have accused OneWest of generating profits through improper and aggressive foreclosures.

The Treasury Department in 2011 found that OneWest used "unsafe or unsound" practices in mortgage servicing and foreclosure proceedings.

Source: AFP Published: 12:00 14-02-2017

Posted by on February 14, 2017.

Categories: Business World News

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