Washington (CNN) - Commerce Secretary nominee Penny Pritzker denied any role Thursday in the creation or control of offshore tax accounts used to help manage her family's vast fortune - a politically sensitive issue for President Barack Obama in the wake of last year's election.
Democrats repeatedly criticized GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 for stashing some his wealth outside of the United States.
Pritzker, testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee in her confirmation hearing, conceded that she is the "beneficiary of offshore family trusts" established when she was a "little girl."
But "I didn't create them. I don't direct them. I don't control them," she told the members of the committee. And "I have complied with all of the disclosure obligations ... required of me in this [confirmation] process."
Pritzker noted that she has asked for the appointment of an American trustee to oversee the accounts.
With a net worth estimated at $1.85 billion by Forbes Magazine, Pritzker, a business executive and heiress to the family that founded the Hyatt hotel chain, is poised to become one of the wealthiest Cabinet members in U.S. history.
Pritzker was not asked about an amendment she made to her financial disclosure reform earlier this week after initially underreporting her income by nearly $80 million.
Her attorney, who filed the amendment with the Office of Government Ethics, blamed the omission on a "clerical error."
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the panel's top Republican, asked Pritzker about her involvement with Chicago-based Superior Bank, which went belly up in 2001. The bank was widely considered a pioneer in subprime mortgages and the securitization of those investments, years before the recent housing-driven financial crisis.
Pritzker said she had stepped down from the bank's board seven years before its failure, but became involved again after problems arose "to try and salvage the situation."
"Unfortunately ... negotiations failed and the bank failed," she said.
Pritzker claimed she voluntarily went to the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and offered to "make this situation right" for depositors. Her family ultimately paid $450 million.
"It was the right thing for us to do, because both for the depositors and for us as a family," she told the committee.
"The lessons that I've learned [from the collapse of Superior Bank] are really about good management, good governance structure, the importance of diversification in risk management, transparency, and having a solid governance," she said.
Pritzker, a key fundraiser for both of President Obama's two White House campaigns, was considered a front-runner for Commerce secretary following the 2008 election until questions were raised about her finances.
As a leading figure in the Hyatt hotel empire, Pritzker has found her nomination bitterly opposed by many of the chain's union employees who question the company's business practices.
A group of Hyatt workers were joined by the labor organization, Unite Here, at the Commerce Committee hearing.
"I am here to just to let everybody know the abuse the workers are under at the Hyatt. I wanted to let everybody know the kind of situation Penny Pritzker puts her employees in," said Leslie Newson, a housekeeper at Hyatt Regency Chicago who made the trip to Pritzker's hearing.
Pritzker's nomination is not seen as being in any danger.
Republicans respect "her business acumen," a congressional source told CNN.