Goldman Sachs CEO says bank does not support Trump travel ban

Goldman Sachs
A view of the Goldman Sachs stall on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 16, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc CEO Lloyd Blankfein became the first major bank CEO to speak out against President Donald Trump’s order to halt arrivals from several Muslim-majority countries.

In a voicemail to employees on Sunday, Blankfein said the policy was not one that the bank endorsed.

“This is not a policy we support, and I would note that it has already been challenged in federal court, and some of the order has been enjoined at least temporarily,” Blankfein told employees.

Blankfein said Goldman would work to minimize potential disruptions to employees and their families caused by Trump’s order, according to a transcript seen by Reuters.

Most U.S. corporate bosses have stayed silent on Trump’s immigration curbs, underscoring the sensitivities around opposing policies that could provoke a backlash from the White House.

While Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc emailed their staff to denounce the order, many of their counterparts in other industries either declined to comment or responded with company statements reiterating their commitment to diversity.

JPMorgan Chase & Co’s operating committee, which includes CEO Jamie Dimon, avoided directly denouncing the policy. In a note to staff over the weekend, the firm said it was reaching out all employees affected and noted that the country was “strengthened by the rich diversity of the world around us.”

Other banks, including Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo & Co, said they were reviewing the executive order and its implication on staff.

The U.S. hedge fund industry was virtually silent on the immigration restrictions. Representatives for most major firms —including Bridgewater Associates, Renaissance Technologies, Millennium Management and Two Sigma Investments — did not respond to requests for comment over the weekend.

Private equity firms, including Blackstone Group LP whose CEO Stephen Schwarzman chairs Trump’s advisory panel of business leaders, also would not comment on the travel ban.

Trump’s decision to select current and former Goldman bankers to high-profile positions in the administration has put the Wall Street firm back in the spotlight. Since the financial crisis, Goldman has worked to improve its image with ordinary people by focusing on its philanthropic and diversity initiatives, as well as its role in job creation.

Former Goldman president Gary Cohn left the bank in December to become the head of the White House National Economic Council. Other former Goldman bankers in the Trump administration include Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and White House adviser Steve Bannon.

(Reporting by Olivia Oran in New York; additional reporting by Richa Naidu in Bengaluru and Lawrence Delevingne in New York; Editing by Martina D’Couto and Nick Zieminski)