WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson inadvertently failed to disclose a mutual fund holding valued at less than $15,000 before he took over the job last year, the Treasury said on Tuesday.
Paulson submitted a supplemental disclosure to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics showing that he holds shares in the Goldman Sachs Asia Equity Class A fund (GSAGX.O).
The omission was “an oversight” on Paulson’s part, Treasury spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin said.
Paulson, the former chairman of Wall Street investment powerhouse Goldman Sachs (GS.N), was estimated to have a net worth of about $700 million when he took office in July 2006. He was awarded an $18.7 million cash bonus for his final half-year of work for Goldman Sachs.
The omitted mutual fund was valued on the supplemental disclosure at between $1,000 and $15,000.
“Mr. Paulson’s accountant recently discovered that one of Mr. Paulson’s assets, the Goldman Sachs Asia Equity Fund, was inadvertently omitted from his report,” Treasury Assistant General Counsel Bernard Knight said in a letter to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
“Because this asset is a diversified mutual fund and is valued at less $15,000, it is my opinion that it poses no potential conflict with the Secretary’s duties,” Knight wrote.
Since taking office July 10, 2006, Paulson has made three trips to Asia to discuss policy and trade issues with top government officials. Two of the trips were to China directly and a third included Japan, South Korea and China.
Since the beginning of July 2006 through Monday, the Goldman Sachs Asia Equity fund’s net asset value per share has risen 18.9 cent, to $18.10.
The fund's performance over the same period paled in comparison with the stunning 94.5 percent gain delivered by Shanghai's main stock index .SSEC and also was beaten by Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index .HSI, which rose 21.7 percent.
But the fund managed to trounce both Japan's Nikkei 225 .N225, which rose 9.8 percent since the start of July 2006 through Monday and South Korea's KOSPI index .KS11, which turned a 12.7 percent gain.