Recently President Donald Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary was found to have 100 million in unclaimed assets. Steve Mnuchin is a former Goldman Sachs banker, and had begun testifying before the senate finance committee on Thursday January 19th, 2017. Mnuchin is being ridiculed largly because of his role in the mortgage epidemic created by banks, such as Goldman Sachs, labeled as a foreclosure machine in 2008. Mnuchin was labeled by committee member and senator Ron Wyden as “someone it is difficult to see working for the American people”. Mnuchin struggled to answer questions about his use of tax havens as a hedge fund manager, and what he believed their legality status should be. Mnuchin was quoted as saying “Let me just be clear again: I did not use a Cayman Islands entity in any way to avoid paying taxes for myself. I would love to work with the I.R.S. to close these tax issues that make no sense.” While many on the committee were questioning of Mnuchin, there were others who came to his defense committee member. Republican senator, Orrin Hatch was rather supportive of Mnuchin stating “I don’t think anyone can reasonably argue that Mr. Mnuchin is not qualified for this position. Mnuchin revised his original questionnaire which included 95 million dollars worth of new assets, mostly property held within the United States. Mr. Mnuchin listed this as a misunderstanding of the questionnaire. Mnuchin submitted over 5000 pages of disclosures, however, the democratic side of the committee made a point to ask if this was not merely a mistake but an ethical lapse. Mnuchin replied with his statement “I can assure you these forms were very complicated, and I filled them out to the best of my ability”. This did not deter many from questioning his authenticity however, as Shripal Shah, Vice President of American Bridge, was quoted as saying “By slamming through Mnuchin, Senate Republicans are becoming accessories to Trump’s future corruption, helping him stack his cabinet with shady billionaires who, like Trump, will rig the government to serve their own interests at the expense of the American people,”.
Ethically this can be approached from the values of integrity. It may appear that Mnuchin has poor social values, specifically honesty and loyalty. If he has told us all the truth, and the omissions were merely a mistake, then it would appear that he has done nothing wrong, it was simply a mistake. However, if Mnuchin was aware that his omission of property was not the correct thing to do it would appear that he is not an honest human being, which brings into question his ability to perform the position that he has been appointed to. Mnuchin is about to be placed into a position that requires an attentive and honest nature directed towards the American public, and he is not off to the greatest start. Many of the committee believe that Mnuchins role with Goldman Sachs, and offshore tax havens as his time to be a clear indicator of his inability to perform the position he was handed. The problem I see is that, while the act of using offshore tax havens seems blatantly wrong to most of the population of the United States, Mnuchin himself did not break any laws or regulations set for the by I.R.S. This causes a great conflict for me ethically, because if he has not broken any laws then there is not a true lack of honesty. Mnuchin also stated on record that he personally has never used a tax haven. If this was found to be untrue he would surely have broken the social integrity of honesty. However, his actions and his ability to hide his client’s funds from the I.R.S seems to break social integrity, loyalty. I see his role in offshore tax havens, and the investment bank Goldman Sachs, as breaking his loyalty to the American people. He has been nominated for an incredibly important position in which he must hold complete trust from the American people to operate properly. If he is not working solely for the wellbeing of every single American citizen it would seem as though he is not loyal to the people he serves, but rather something less important. Mnuchin’s past and current actions, along with his nomination have brought his ethical values to the forefront to be questioned, and I believe we need more information to make an accurate decision, however he is not off to a good start in the eyes of many American citizens.