Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is under fire from a Democratic congresswoman who raised conflict of interest allegations in his sale of his stake in the RatPac-Dune Entertainment company, which held minority interests in such movies as Wonder Woman, Gravity, Batman v Superman, The Lego Movie and Creed.
Rep. Jackie Speier of California claimed Mnuchin sold his stake in RatPac-Dune to Len Blavatnik, and therefore should have been disqualified from the Treasury decision late last year to lift sanctions on another business associate of Blavatnik.
Treasury sent a letter to Speier on Wednesday denying that Mnuchin sold his holdings in RatPac-Dune to Blavatnik, claiming he instead sold his stake to an unrelated third party.
“To be clear, the Secretary did not sell his stake in RPDE (RatPac-Dune) to Mr. Blavatnik or his companies,” according to the Treasury letter, written by Jennifer Bang, deputy assistant secretary for legislative affairs. “The Secretary sold his stake in RPDE to a third party unrelated to Mr. Blavatnik.”
Mnuchin and Blavatnik at times both held significant stakes in RatPac-Dune Entertainment.
“There was never, at any point, any contact between Blavatnik and Secretary Mnuchin in connection with the sale and operations of RatPac-Dune,” a Blavatnik spokesperson told ABC News on Wednesday. “Blavatnik has had no business conversations whatsoever with Secretary Mnuchin in connection to Treasury’s actions and decisions on sanctions.”
The identity of the RatPac buyer has not been disclosed. Democrats want to make sure there are no connections to Russian Oleg Deripaska, who has had other business dealing with Blavatnik. Speier is now demanding to know who actually bought the Mnuchin stake.
Treasury officials eased sanctions in December against energy and aluminum companies tied to Deripaska, the Russian businessman with some ties to Blavatnik.
Speier asked in a letter to Mnuchin whether he’s “ever influenced deliberations on sanctions applications when they involved an entity in which you had a financial interest or with which you had a relationship.”
“Given your business relationships with these individuals and your involvement in twice delaying sanctions, weakening the penalties, and eventually proposing relief from sanctions, there is clearly a conflict of interest,” Speier wrote.