Goldman Sachs chief on a flying visit down under

One of the most controversial figures in modern finance will be in Australia next week.

One of the most controversial figures in modern finance will be in Australia next week. Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, is coming to Sydney.

It will be a strictly fly-in, fly-out occasion to meet investors. But he will be making an appearance at a business conference on Friday in which he will give a talk titled "The global economic outlook and the state of capital markets".

Mr Blankfein has been at the helm of Goldman Sachs during one of the investment bank's most controversial periods.

The bank played a leading role in the purchase and sale of so-called "collateralised debt obligations" - complicated financial derivative products that were linked to the US subprime mortgage market - which contributed to the global financial crisis in 2007.

Mr Blankfein has testified before the US Congress to explain Goldman Sachs' role in the creation and distribution of those CDOs.

At one such hearing, he said the bank had no legal or moral obligation to tell its clients that it was selling them financial product it had created and then betting that those same products would fail, because it was not acting in a fiduciary role.

In April 2010, Goldman Sachs was sued by US regulators for doing so.

In March last year, a former Goldman Sachs employee, Greg Smith, wrote a scathing piece for The New York Times in which he criticised Mr Blankfein for letting the firm's "moral fibre" decline. "When the history books are written about Goldman Sachs, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Lloyd Blankfein, and the president, Gary Cohn, lost hold of the firm's culture on their watch," he wrote.

Critics of the letter said Mr Smith had worked for the bank for 12 years before deciding to go public about the problems inside it.

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