Barroso direct contact with Goldman Sachs during term in Brussels
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    Barroso direct contact with Goldman Sachs during term in Brussels

    Barroso at the centre of conflict of interest storm.
    Barroso at the centre of conflict of interest storm.

    José Manuel Barroso, at the centre of a storm around him being hired by Goldman Sachs, had direct discussions with the American bank during his term as President of the European Commission (2004 to 2014). This sprung out of documents which emerged on Saturday in the Portuguese newspaper Público.

    The leaders of Goldman Sachs “confidentially forwarded, to Barroso’s office, proposals upon changes to European Union policies.”

    This was reported in the newspaper, which published extracts of letters and e-mails obtained from the European Commission.

    A document dated 30 September 2013, signed by the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, thus set out details of a low-key visit by Mr Barroso to the bank’s head office in New York.

    The newspaper stated that this did not feature on Barroso’s official schedule or in Commission archives.

    Mr Blankein wrote, “I thoroughly enjoyed our productive discussion on global economic perspectives.” In the letter he concluded by hiring Mr Barroso as Non-Executive Chairman of Goldman Sachs International.

    Approached by the newspaper, Mr Barroso “categorically denied” having had a “special relationship with a financial entity” during the period of his two offices in Brussels.

    He emphasized, “In my roles, I naturally maintained links with institutions, both on a transparent basis and duly registering them in Commission archives. These included with innumerable political entities, employers, trade unions and financial institutions.”

    He went on, amongst these organisations, figured “the principal banks operating within the European market,” within the context of the “financial crisis.”

    Amongst other items, the newspaper mentions a letter from a Goldman Sachs lobbyist making proposals relating to financial market legislation.

    This letter is followed by a response from a member of staff in Barroso’s office who promised to read them “with great interest.”

    During future visits to Brussels, Mr Barroso will, from now on, be welcomed as a general lobbyist and “not as a former president”, his successor Jean-Claude Juncker has warned.

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Time