Juncker questions Barroso's decision to join Goldman Sachs

Goldman’s role in financial crisis leads president of European commission to criticise predecessor’s choice of job

The European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has criticised the controversial decision of his predecessor, José Manuel Barroso, to join the investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Juncker said he objected to Barroso’s decision to work for Goldman because of the US investment bank’s role in the financial crisis.

José Manuel Barroso.
José Manuel Barroso. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

“I think José Manuel Barroso is an honest man and he is a friend. Personally I do not have a problem with him working for a private bank – but maybe not this bank,” Juncker said in an interview featured on YouTube (at 45 mins).

“Goldman Sachs was one of the organisations that knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the enormous financial crisis we had between 2007 and 2009. So one does wonder about the particular bank he has ended up working for.”

Barroso led the commission from 2004-14 and has come under intense pressure since his appointment in July as chairman of Goldman Sachs International, the bank’s UK and European operations.

Earlier this week, Juncker launched an unprecedented investigation into whether Barroso broke EU rules by taking the job. The former prime minister of Portugal is being asked to clarify his responsibilities at the bank, according to a letter from Juncker to the EU ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly.

Some staff from European Union bodies have reacted with fury to the appointment, denouncing their former boss’s behaviour as “morally reprehensible”.

An anonymous group of workers launched a petition calling on Barroso to forfeit his pension for bringing the EU into disrepute by joining Goldman Sachs. The petition has been signed by almost 145,000 people.

Barroso, however, hit back at the criticism, insisting he would act with integrity and discretion in his role.

In a letter to Juncker, Barroso said he was not being employed as a lobbyist nor as a special adviser on Brexit. “I have not been engaged to lobby on behalf of Goldman Sachs and I do not intend to do so.”He accused Juncker of discrimination by warning Barroso he would not be received in EU institutions as a former president, but as an “interest representative” subject to the same rules as other lobbyists.

“I have never sought a privileged position but I would not expect to be discriminated against,” Barroso said. “Not only are these actions discriminatory but they appear inconsistent with decisions taken in respect of other former members of the commission.”


Angela Monaghan

The GuardianTramp

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