josé manuel barroso eu

José Manuel Barroso : Goldman Sach’s, Hedge Funds, Lobbying and the City

The former Portuguese president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, who was president of the Commission for 10 years until 2014, was named in July of this years as a chairman of Goldman Sachs International to assist the bank regarding Brexit issues. For BBC, Goldman Sach’s  is a powerful player in the City of London.

The UK government is preparing for painstaking talks on the terms for withdrawing from the EU. There are fears that Brexit could harm the City’s pre-eminent role in European finance. But we don’t know to whose harm or not Mr Barroso  will deploy his inside knowledge and expertise all these years as the EU commission’s president. And, of course, Goldman Sach’s is looking to do the best profit from Brexit, it is certainly not a charity organization!

Of course, the British have the right to decide if they want to remain into the EU or leave but putting the ex-EU’s commission president as a chairmain into the biggest corrupted bank this century has seen yet is a finger by Mr Barroso to EU’s institutions and to all of us, people who served all these years.

This second shot after Brexit will help only far-right parties and conspiracy theorists who work and write against the EU. Rightly or wrongly, Goldman Sach’s has become a new symbol of today’s collusion between public officials and private actors for private benefit. Regarding now the crisis that started in 2008, he didn’t even see it coming through as a financial tsunami that hit severely also Portugal. Mr. Barroso oversaw the banking crisis and the ensuing fallout that gripped the eurozone.

For the French most known journal “Le Monde”, he chaired the European Commission without any fresh ideas or originality in order to help the European ideal to stay alive.The fact that Mr Barroso contributes from now on to the anti-european speech often from parties that belong to the far-right scene, the same ones which threat the democratic character of the continent, it is outrageous. It is an anti-European gesture and this will have some terrible repercussions for the public image of the EU.

Prime Minister Theresa May insists that “Brexit means Brexit” and is widely expected to trigger Article 50 – the withdrawal mechanism – next year.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr. Barroso said he would attempt to mitigate any negative effects of Brexit in his new role with the bank. Mr Barroso  will move to London and instruct the bank on UK negotiations to leave the European Union.

“Of course I know well the EU, I also know relatively well the UK environment,” the FT quoted Barroso as saying, adding “if my advice can be helpful in this circumstance I’m ready to contribute, of course.”

Mr Barroso, who also served as Portugal’s prime minister, has hit back against criticism about his new role at Goldman Sachs by insisting he will act with integrity and discretion. But what integrity and discretion we’re talking about, as he will put all the knowledge he has, all the secrets he knows about the EU and its structures to the service of  Goldman Sach’s, the bank who attributed to the biggest financial scandals since 2001.

Financial Times argues that for a  group of academics and lawyers Mr Barroso could lose his generous pension — worth €15,000 a month when he retires — if he is found to have behaved without “integrity and discretion” by taking the new role.

We have all the reason to believe that Barroso will implement all his know how and about the UK economy  in order to protect the bank’s interests from Brexit but, of course as the bank always did, not the interests of the British people to whom Mr Barroso was a President of their interests also during his mandate.

  • A Brief Recent History of Goldman Sach’s scandals

José Manuel Barroso (“or biggest EU’s traitor in history”) is joining the Wall Street bank that helped set off the 2008 financial crisis. Goldman has also been blamed for assisting Athens in hiding its financial situation in order to enter the eurozone in 2000.

Goldman Sachs donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to pro-EU campaigners, and said last month that Brexit could force it to restructure some of its business. In May, in the run-up to the referendum, figures released by the Electoral Commission revealed that Goldman Sachs had quietly donated £500,000 to Britain Stronger in Europe – the official, government back anti-Brexit campaign – shortly before February when donations had to be declared.

Transparency campaigners have launched an online petition, signed by more than 62,000 people and a second one  was launched by EU employees on change.org  and it has been signed by more than 144, 000 people until now. The petitioners want Mr Barroso to lose his Commission pension.

Back in 2001, Goldman Sachs came to the rescue of Greece, arranging a secret loan of 2.8 billion euros for Greece, disguised as an off-the-books “cross-currency swap”—a complicated transaction in which Greece’s foreign-currency debt was converted into a domestic-currency obligation using a fictitious market exchange rate. For its services, Goldman received a whopping 600 million euros ($793 million), according to Spyros Papanicolaou, who took over from Sardelis in 2005. Perhaps not incidentally, Mario Draghi, now head of the European Central Bank and a major player in the current Greek drama, was then managing director of Goldman’s international division.

There are analogies here in America, beginning with the predatory loans made by Goldman, other big banks, and the financial companies they were allied with in the years leading up to the bust. Today, even as the bankers vacation in the Hamptons, millions of Americans continue to struggle with the aftershock of the financial crisis in terms of lost jobs, savings, and homes.

Goldman Sachs and the other giant Wall Street banks are masterful at selling complex deals by exaggerating their benefits and minimizing their costs and risks. That’s how they earn giant fees. When a client gets into trouble—whether that client is an American homeowner, a US city, or Greece—Goldman ducks and hides behind legal formalities and shareholder interests.

Read more: What's the Link Between Ex EC President, Goldman Sachs and Greek Pensions?



  • This move  from Mr Barroso sparked anger among commission staff and EU’s politicians

EU’s employees all statement here:This decision to go and work for one of the banks most implicated in the subprime crisis that led to the financial crisis of 2007-2008 – the worst since the Great Depression – as well as one of the banks most involved in the Greek debt crisis, having helped Greece dissimulate its deficit before speculating in 2009-2010 against it in full knowledge of the unsustainability of its debt, is a further example of the irresponsible revolving-door practices, which are highly damaging to the EU institutions and, even if not illegal, morally reprehensible.

EU Employees (EE) to Transparency International: It all started a few hours after the announcement that Mr Barroso was joining Goldman Sachs, a bank directly involved in the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. Several colleagues from all EU institutions immediately reacted, sharing their indignation and started writing a text in order to express this feeling of outrage and betrayal by our ex-President.

  • How did you feel when you first heard the news?

EE: Outraged. Betrayed. Slammed in the face. And then very worried about the disastrous image for our institutions, our project, our European future. After all the bad news about the future of Europe: the refugee and migrant crisis, the crisis unleashed by the Brexit referendum, the continuing economic crisis, and the crisis over the kind of Europe we want, this was the last straw. And there is a treaty, and rules which should apply to all concerned, in this case Article 245. How can citizens trust EU leaders if they shy away from their responsibilities?

  • Reactions

Current European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has asked the organization’s top ethics body to look into the decision by his predecessor. Mr. Juncker said a senior commission official had written to Mr. Barroso “to provide clarifications on his new responsibilities.” He added that the commission was asking for details on “the terms of reference of his contract, on which I will seek the advice of the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee.”

“These shameful revolving doors between politics and business foster doubts on the integrity of democratic politics,” European Parliament member Sven Giegold was cited by Politico.eu.  “Barroso’s quick change-over damages the reputation of the European Commission,” he added.

The EU affairs correspondent Jean Quatremer wrote for the French daily Liberation that “Barroso has given Europe the finger.”

Pedro Filipe Soares, a leader in Portugal’s radical Left Bloc that supports the ruling leftist coalition, said: “This nomination shows that the European elite of which Barroso is part knows no shame.”

France’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Matthias Fekl, meanwhile, tweeted: “Serving the people badly, serving yourself at Goldman Sachs: Barroso, an undecent representative of an old Europe that our representative will change.”

As it was reported by RT.com, currently there is a “cooling-off” period of 18 months imposed by the EU after officials leave their posts. Marisa Matias from the Confederal Group of the European United Left has called for an end to the impunity enjoyed by former EU officials.

“This appointment is completely shameful. Barroso waited for the end of his 18 months to immediately collect his reward for the good job he did for Goldman Sachs and the financial markets, by devastating the lives of millions of European citizens with austerity in Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, among others.”

“This shows what interests European leaders follow, and a good example of why the European Union got to this appalling state,” she added.

According to The Guardian, Barroso’s role at Goldman sparked controversy in France, from the far-right leader Marine Le Pen and also the country’s Europe minister, Harlem Désir, who said the EU’s conflict of interest rules needed to be tightened.

  • EU citizens  Vote and support the petition :here

All former members are bound to respect their duties of integrity and discretion under Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union Article 245, even after the expiration of the period of 18 months after leaving office. Even more so in the case of José Manuel Barroso, who was appointed twice by the Heads of State and Government, as well as by the European Parliament.

  • Examine in detail and in all transparency whether Mr Barroso has respected his duties of integrity and discretion towards the European Union;

  • Take, in light of this, appropriately strong and exemplary measures against José Manuel Barroso, such as:

  1. The suspension of his pension allowance as former President of the European Commission for the period of his employment at Goldman Sachs and beyond;

  2. The suspension of all possible honorary titles linked to the European Institutions;

  • Reinforce the ethical rules to fight such revolving-door practices that apply to former Members of the Commission, in proportion to the damage that their future behaviour can bring to the European civil service and the European Union, in particular with stricter rules for former Presidents and Vice-Presidents than for ordinary former Commissioners.

  • EU citizens  Vote and support the petition :here. Thank you

*What is a ‘Hedge Fund’ :

Hedge funds are alternative investments using pooled funds that may use a number of different strategies in order to earn active return, or alpha, for their investors. Hedge funds may be aggressively managed or make use of derivatives and leverage in both domestic and international markets with the goal of generating high returns (either in an absolute sense or over a specified market benchmark). Because hedge funds may have low correlations with a traditional portfolio of stocks and bonds, allocating an exposure to hedge funds can be a good diversifier.

 

Credit Picture: Wikimedia

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