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Former Treasury secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinLarry Kudlow debuts to big ratings on Fox Business Network Mnuchin's wife Louise Linton on return to Hollywood: 'I've been villainized' Senators press Treasury to prioritize Tubman redesign MORE 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.

Last week, Bloomberg 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. 

Bloomberg 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.”

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

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Bitcoin rebounds after Square, MicroStrategy purchases

Bitcoin climbed back above the $50,000 mark Wednesday after getting another vote of confidence from major companies not named Tesla.

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency recovered from its steep Tuesday plunge to trade up 4.1 percent at $50,710.12 as of 8:11 a.m. after climbing as high as $51,445.67 overnight, according to CoinDesk data.

The bounce came after digital payments firm Square announced that it bought some 3,318 bitcoins for a total of $170 million, adding to a $50 million purchase it made last year.

The Cash App owner — led by Twitter CEO and crypto fan Jack Dorsey — said its bitcoin investment now represents about 5 percent of its corporate cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities.

Business intelligence firm MicroStrategy — an early corporate backer of bitcoin — also announced Wednesday that it had bought more than $1 billion worth of the digital currency, bringing its total bitcoin investment to about $2.2 billion.

The firms doubled down on their bitcoin bets despite the cryptocurrency’s wild volatility, which some experts think will keep other big companies away from the burgeoning crypto market.

The Cash App owner — led by Twitter CEO and crypto fan Jack Dorsey — said its bitcoin investment now represents about 5 percent of its corporate cash.Michael Reynolds/Pool Photo via AP, File

“We believe the internet needs a native currency, and we believe bitcoin is it,” Dorsey said on the company’s earnings call Tuesday.

Dorsey added that more than three million Cash App customers bought or sold bitcoin last year and more than a million purchased it for the first time in January alone.

But Wall Street isn’t so convinced. Square’s stock price fell about 2.6 percent to $250.01 in premarket trading Wednesday after it revealed the bitcoin buy alongside a fourth-quarter earnings report that beat expectations for adjusted profits but missed estimates for revenues.

Square’s announcement came about two weeks after Tesla revealed it had bought $1.5 billion in bitcoin, which added fuel to the coin’s staggering rally.

But major cryptocurrencies tanked Tuesday after Tesla chief Elon Musk said he thought the prices of bitcoin and Ether, the second-largest coin by market value, “seem high.” The tumble also followed a warning from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that bitcoin was “extremely inefficient” and “highly speculative.”

Bitcoin’s value has still surged about 73 percent this year despite falling from its all-time high of $58,332.36, CoinDesk data show. It’s gotten a boost from increased interest among institutional investors as well as large companies’ growing support for cryptocurrency.

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