World

Treasury Secretary under fire for plugging Lego Batman film

WASHINGTON: The top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee asked the government ethics watchdog yesterday to review comments by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plugging The Lego Batman Movie, a film one of his companies produced, for a possible ethics violation.

In a letter to Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub, Senator Ron Wyden said he was concerned that Mr Mnuchin had violated his ethics agreement signed in January in his comments on Friday at the end of a live interview with the Axios news website.

Mr Mnuchin had agreed to divest his interests in Ratpac-Dune Entertainment within 120 days of his confirmation, and "not participate personally and substantially in any matter that has a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of the entity" unless first obtaining a waiver.

RatPac-Dune, co-founded by Mr Mnuchin with producer-director Brett Ratner and media billionaire James Packer, has produced and financed a number of Hollywood hits in recent years, including Avatar, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Lego Batman Movie.

At the Axios event, Mr Mnuchin was asked by a reader for a movie recommendation.

He replied: "I'm not allowed to promote anything that I'm involved in.

"So I just want to have the legal disclosure, you've asked me the question, and I am not promoting any product.

"But you should send all your kids to Lego Batman."

The comment drew laughter from the audience at the event. - REUTERS

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