A bit like national tabloid Correio da Manhã – on a mission to expose the alleged nefarious exploits of former prime minister José Sócrates – Público is bearing down on former European Commission president Durão Barroso, suggesting his controversial relationship with new employers Goldman Sachs goes ‘even deeper’ than the paper originally believed.
With a petition calling for Barroso’s censure for moving from the gilded corridors of politics to the not-so-gleaming halls of high finance already amassing well over 150,000 signatures, Público has released a story today claiming the European Commission “omitted” to provide telling documents when the paper requested access to “Barroso archives”.
These documents would have given a clearer picture of relationship between Barroso and his future employers, explains Público.
As it was, under European legislation authorising access to official documents, the European Commission sent Público 11 documents, referring to various meetings.
The paper has since discovered there were nine other emails, all of them referring to different “meetings and requests by Goldman Sachs to Durão Barroso”.
One referred to a meeting “for two” between Barroso and Goldman Sachs’ flamboyant CEO Lloyd Blankfein, suggested for the days 11 or 12 October, 2013, in New York.
“If it’s possible, we would like to put you up in the Hotel Ritz Carlton (1150, 22nd Street)”, the mail from Goldman Sachs ended.
There has been no confirmation that this meeting took place, writes Público, but in September Durão Barroso was known to have had a private meeting with Blankfein, “this time at the headquarters of his own bank”.
According to the European Commission, the reason it did not alert the paper to the ‘missing mails’ were that they referred to meetings “in which Barroso and his office did not assure their presence”.
It’s a “fragile” excuse, says Público, as even the 11 original documents required close-checking, and when the paper could not prove a meeting had taken place, it did not write about it.
Equally, the Commission “has not managed to explain how it came to its conclusion” (that meetings had or had not taken place), particularly as Barroso’s archives do not include old diaries.
In response to Público’s continued digging into his past, Durão Barroso has reiterated his denial of “any kind of privileged relationship with the bank while performing political functions”, saying: “It is important to stress that it is natural in the competences and duties of the president of the Commission to have contacts with outside entities. But to singularise one determined financial entity could suggest there was in some way a privileged relationship”. This he “refutes categorically”.
Nonetheless, for the time being at least, Barroso’s loss of so-called red-carpet privileges remains, meaning his influence as Goldman Sach’s new chairman may be severely truncated (click here).