The former president of the of the European Commission, the European Union’s (EU) unelected executive arm, has been recruited as the new boss of international operations at Goldman Sachs, who funded the official anti-Brexit campaign.
The American investment bank, which was accused of “serious misconduct” and agreed last month to pay out $5.06bn for its role in the 2008 financial crisis, is to hire José Manuel Barroso, the former Portuguese prime minister and most powerful man in the EU (pictured right, alongside current president Jean-Claude Juncker).
Mr. Barroso, who was president of the European Commission for 10 years until 2014 and presided over the Eurozone crisis, will help the Wall Street giant manage the so-called “fall out” from Brexit as well as other international uncertainties. His pay has not been disclosed.
During his time as President of the Commission he persistently attacked Eurosceptics, including David Cameron when he announced that the British people would have a democratic say on their membership of the block.
The bank has a long history of hiring EU bureaucrats. Mr. Barroso takes the job from Peter Sutherland, a former European Commissioner and ex-boss of the World Trade Organisation, who left last year.
Mr. Sutherland’s anti-democratic and anti-Brexit rhetoric has been even more inflammatory. After the Brexit vote was announced, he called for it to be “overturned”.
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.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr. Baroso said he would attempt to mitigate any negative effects of Brexit in his new role with the bank.
“Of course I know well the EU, I also know relatively well the UK environment,” he said. “If my advice can be helpful in this circumstance I’m ready to contribute, of course”.
He claimed that one of the most difficult areas of the Brexit negotiations would involve trade and access to the single market. “What I know for sure is that on both sides it will be intelligent and wise to have a fair negotiation,” he told the FT. “Nobody wins from a confrontation.”
While he was head of the European Commission, Mr. Barroso oversaw the banking crisis and the ensuing fallout that gripped the eurozone.
“As president of the EC, I was leading an overall effort of regulation and supervision, including the creation of banking union in the euro area, to bring back stability, credibility to the financial sector,” Mr. Barroso added.