Tuesday, November 1, 2016

EU Ethos: Ex-commission chief cleared of violating EU rules by taking Goldman Sachs job

A European Union ethics panel cleared the former president of the European Commission of violations for taking a job with Goldman Sachs, though he was scolded by the panel for showing poor judgement when he accepted the position.

The EU said there was not "sufficient grounds to establish a violation" of ethics rules by former commission President José Manuel Barroso when he was hired by Goldman Sachs as a non-executive chairman of its London-based bank.

The ad hoc ethics panel said Barroso did not violate the 18-month cooling-off period required of all commissioners before accepting certain types of positions after their term expires -- Barroso was hired 20 months after leaving the commission -- but his joining Goldman Sachs, specifically, raises a range of concerns for them.

"Not so much the appointment as non-executive chairman of the board of a bank, but of the bank of Goldman Sachs International," the panel wrote in its judgement, published on the European Union's website. "In much of the criticisms Goldman Sachs is seen as the exponent of aggressive investment banking, more particularly criticized because of its roll in triggering the financial crisis and for advising on financial constructs enabling to occult the reality of debt position of Greece."

In addition to concerns about harming the reputation of the EU, commissioners express concern Barroso will lobby for and advise Goldman Sachs and its clients on issues relating to Europe that he was previously responsible for. Top among these is the impending Brexit, and how Goldman will do business with both the United Kingdom after it exits the EU and the rest of Europe.

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