March 14, 2012 at 7:31 AM ET
In a very public and scathing resignation letter, Goldman Sachs executive director Greg Smith has called the atmosphere at the massive investment bank "as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it."
"Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs," wrote Smith, who was the head of the firm's U.S. equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in an Op-Ed in the New York Times on Wednesday titled "Why I am Leaving Goldman Sachs."
Smith, who is based in London and has been with Goldman for 12 years, went on to describe what he says is a deteriorating culture at Goldman Sachs where clients are called "muppets" and their interests are given short shrift.
"The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for," Smith wrote.
Smith blamed the culture shift on chief executive Lloyd Blankfein and president Gary Cohn. "I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival," Smith wrote.
"It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as 'muppets,' sometimes over internal e-mail," wrote Smith, who says he went to Stanford University on a full scholarship, was a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship and won a bronze medal for table tennis at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.
In an emailed statement, Goldman Sachs, said, “We disagree with the views expressed, which we don’t think reflect the way we run our business. In our view, we will only be successful if our clients are successful. This fundamental truth lies at the heart of how we conduct ourselves.”
So far, msnbc.com hasn't been able to track Smith down for a comment, but the Wall Street Journal, quoting a person familiar with the matter, said Smith is a vice president, which is a common title on Wall Street, even among junior staff.
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