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There's no going back for Anthony Scaramucci

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 8/4/2017 Gregory Korte
White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci talks to the media outside the White House in Washington, U.S., July 25, 2017. Scaramucci's week in the White House

Photo gallery by Reuters

WASHINGTON — Anthony Scaramucci took no salary during his short tenure as White House communication director — yet his 10-day career detour could end up costing him more than $7.5 million.

That's because the New York hedge fund founder left the White House before he could obtain a "certificate of divestiture" giving him the special tax treatment available to federal employees who give up assets in order to avoid conflicts of interest. 

Without that certificate, the sale of Scaramucci's SkyBridge Capital to a Chinese holding company will be taxed at the capital gains rate of 15%. According to Scaramucci's financial disclosure report, his 43.8% share of the sale is worth at least $50 million; other estimates put that number even higher.

The Office of Government Ethics would not comment on Scaramucci's application for that special tax treatment. But certificates are a matter of public record, and no such certificate has been granted to Scaramucci. And under OGE regulations, the agency will only grant certificates to current employees of the executive branch.

That certificate allows a federal employee to reinvest the proceeds of the asset sale —with capital gains taxes deferred — into U.S. Treasuries or a diversified mutual fund that would not present a conflict of interest.

The Export-Import Bank, the federal agency where Scaramucci served as chief strategy officer and senior vice president before moving to the White House, said he officially left his job there July 25.

SkyBridge announced it struck the deal with the Chinese company, HNA Group, in January – the same time Scaramucci said that he would step down as the firm's co-managing partner as he prepared to take a different senior job within the Trump administration.

Trump's then-chief of staff Reince Priebus and other staffers had blocked his appointment — a point Scaramucci appears to reference in crude and colorful language in a now-infamous rant to the New Yorker. Priebus was ultimately overruled when Trump brought in Scaramucci as communications director on July 21. 

Yet Scaramucci left his White House job Monday – the same day Trump brought on his new chief of staff, John Kelly — before a certificate of divestiture could be issued.

Cancelling the sale is not option, both SkyBridge and the Chinese company, HNA Group, say.

"Recent developments with Anthony Scaramucci and his role within the administration have no impact on our business and/or the transaction with HNA," SkyBridge said in a statement

"The news about Anthony Scaramucci leaving his role as White House communications director has no impact on HNA’s commitment to closing the SkyBridge transaction as soon as possible," said Bob Rendine, an HNA spokesman. "We fully expect it to move forward and there is no change from our hope that it will be closed by the end of the summer."

Scaramucci and his lawyer did not return several messages seeking comment.

 

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