Mnuchin, 53, joined CIT last year when the New York financial services company bought Pasadena-based OneWest Bank; he was chairman of OneWest’s parent company. An investor group he led bought the remains of failed mortgage lender IndyMac Bancorp in 2009 and turned it into OneWest.
Mnuchin joined the board of Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears in 2005, about the same time Sears, Roebuck & Co. was merging with Kmart Holding Corp. Before that, he served on Kmart's board of directors.
The resignations from the companies’ boards, announced Friday, were effective immediately.
Mnuchin spent 17 years on Wall Street at investment bank Goldman Sachs before leaving in 2002. He later started his own private equity firm and has financed Hollywood blockbusters including “American Sniper” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
He had never worked in politics before serving as finance chairman for part of Trump's campaign and helping create Trump's proposal to overhaul the tax code. His deep roots on Wall Street fit the mold of past Treasury secretaries — though he never led a large investment bank — but they contrast with the populist stance the president-elect took during his campaign.
Mnuchin leaves CIT shortly after two California advocacy groups asked federal housing regulators to investigate allegations that OneWest discriminated against or failed to serve minority communities.
Sears, meanwhile, has struggled to compete in the new era of online retail. Its falling sales have prompted it to shed workers and close and shrink stores. The company’s recovery plan includes a more intensive marketing focus on well-known brands such as Kenmore and Craftsman.
Mnuchin’s appointment as Treasury secretary is subject to Senate confirmation.
Times staff writers contributed to this report.