Why I Left Goldman Sachs: Is the bank's most famous quitter a con man?

Greg Smith famously left the investment bank with guns blazing. But his new book reportedly fails to back up his provocative claims

Greg Smith
(Image credit: Screen shot, CBS)

In March, Greg Smith lit up the financial world with an eye-catching op-ed in The New York Times titled "Why I am leaving Goldman Sachs." Smith, a former vice president at the company, decried the "toxic and destructive" environment at Goldman, which he said was so obsessed with profits that it no longer worked in the interest of its clients. Smith charged that inside Goldman, these less-savvy clients were derided as "muppets" who you could sell on financial products that were bad for investors but good for Goldman. (Goldman is currently battling a nearly identical charge in court.) Now, Smith is on the verge of releasing a tell-all book about the company titled Why I Left Goldman Sachs, which has already been reviewed by several journalists. Andrew Ross Sorkin, a financial journalist at the Times, said Smith doesn't have much to say, and may have "conned" the Times into publishing his op-ed. Meanwhile, Goldman has released internal documents showing that Smith left because he was denied a yearly pay package of $1 million, double what he previously made. Is Smith nothing more than a con man?

Yes. Smith is full of it: Goldman's document dump show that Smith "is nothing more than a sweet-talking con man," says William D. Cohan at Bloomberg. "He conned the Times into thinking he was resigning from Goldman Sachs on principle, when he was really nothing more than a disgruntled and ambitious former employee who wanted a bigger bonus and a bigger title and got, and merited, neither." Goldman isn't innocent: It's "always been a stinging scorpion." But Smith is pretending when he suggests that the "culture at Goldman Sachs had deteriorated during his 12-year tenure into something he no longer recognized."

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