Goldman No ‘Drug Cartel,’ Barroso Says, Dismissing EU Outrage

  • Former EU Commission chief says it’s legitimate to join bank
  • Hollande, Juncker criticized decision to join Goldman

Jose Barroso, the former European Commission president, said it’s entirely legitimate to work for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and any mistakes its bankers made during the financial crisis were nothing to do with him.

“I cannot be made responsible for things the bank might possibly have done in the past,” Barroso told reporters in Cascais, near Lisbon in Portugal, Friday. “It’s not a drug cartel. I’m working in a legal entity.”

Barroso’s appointment as an adviser to Goldman Sachs on July 8 sparked outrage from European leaders including French President Francois Hollande, who said joining the U.S. investment bank was “morally unacceptable.” Hollande said that Goldman was implicated in the financial crisis and had helped Greece to cover up its debt, claims that the lender has denied.

The European Commission opened an ethics investigation into Barroso’s decision to take the job after European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly questioned whether it was appropriate for him less than two years after his term ended.

“I accepted going to that bank precisely because the bank gave me guarantees that it wanted to reinforce its culture of transparency and responsibility,” Barroso said.

Barroso, who led the Brussels-based Commission for 10 years until 2014, is advising Goldman Sachs on Brexit and other global issues in his role as non-executive chairman of the firm’s international unit.

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