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Mnuchin Wins Almost $220,000 in Private-Jet Company Lawsuit

May 17, 2019, 7:01 PM

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin won more than $200,000 in a lawsuit against a private-jet company after he claimed the company broke an agreement to reimburse him after he terminated his membership.

The judgment issued May 14 orders JetCard Plus Inc. of Miami to pay $219,692 to Steven T. Mnuchin Inc., which the Treasury chief owns. JetCard sold members prepaid hours to fly on its jets.

Mnuchin in September signed an agreement with JetCard that would terminate his company’s membership and JetCard would wire his company $202,668 by Oct. 1. Attorneys for Mnuchin’s company, who work for Holland & Knight LLP, wrote in the complaint that JetCard never intended to fulfill the agreement because of financial or other difficulties, and “actively concealed from and/or misrepresented” that to Mnuchin.

A Treasury spokesman said the lawsuit is between two private companies and has no implication on the Treasury Department or the secretary’s duties. Business numbers for JetCard Plus were disconnected. JetCard CEO Paul Svensen didn’t respond to messages left by phone or online.

Mnuchin was required to divest stakes in 43 investments to avoid conflicts of interest when he became Treasury secretary in 2017. His agreement with the Office of Government Ethics allowed him to keep Steven T. Mnuchin Inc., through which he manages some of his investments.

As long as Mnuchin didn’t use his position as Treasury secretary to influence the outcome of the dispute or leverage some sort of other benefit out of the company, nothing keeps him from participating in private transactions like the lawsuit, said Brendan Fischer, director of the federal reform program at the Campaign Legal Center.

A spokesman for the Office of Government Ethics said that the OGE doesn’t discuss individual cases.

The judge in the case, filed in Miami-Dade County, Florida, circuit court, allows Mnuchin to collect the $202,668 he said he was owed, plus attorneys’ fees, interest and other costs.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission

To contact the reporters on this story: Joe Light in Washington at jlight8@bloomberg.net; Saleha Mohsin in Washington at smohsin2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net Wendy Benjaminson, Ros Krasny

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