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Outcry at Goldman Sachs appointment

March 20, 2018

"Making the arsonists the firefighters" is how one opposition politician described the appointment. A member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives has also raised an eyebrow at the decision.

Goldman Sachs co-head Jörg Kukies at the Munich Oktoberfest in 2017
Jörg KukiesImage: picture-alliance/dpa/ATP/A. Thill

A top Goldman Sachs investment banker is set to become a deputy finance minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel's new coalition government.

Politicians from across the political spectrum, including Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), immediately criticized the appointment.

Read more: EU to investigate Barroso over Goldman Sachs job

Details of the appointment:

  • Jörg Kukies will replace Thomas Steffan as deputy finance minister upon stepping down as the co-head of Goldman Sachs in Germany and Austria.
  • The 50-year-old Kukies is set to take over responsibilities for financial markets and European policies at the Finance Ministry.
  • Kukies is, like Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, a long-time member of the Social Democrats (SPD). He was the head of the party's youth wing in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate in the early 1990s.

Read more: Trading in bitcoins may be coming soon to Goldman Sachs

A Goldman Sachs government

What were the reactions?

CDU budget expert Eckhardt Rehberg told German daily newspaper Passauer Neue Presse that Kukies' appointment was a "questionable decision." He added that "it raises the question whether he [Kukies] serves the interest of the federal government or his former industry."

The deputy leader of the Left Party in the German parliament, Fabio de Masi, wrote on Twitter: "Scholz is copying Trump by making the arsonists the firefighters." He added: "You may as well just let the bankers write the laws." His post included a picture of Kukies superimposed on a poster of the Hollywood film "The Wolf of Wall Street."

The Greens' finance expert in parliament, Gerhard Schick, said: "It gives an indication of the problems in the SPD when a social democrat entrusts responsibility for banking regulations to an investment banker."

Finance Minister Scholz, who was attending an economic summit in Buenos Aires, said after the announcement: "I'm happy that I've gotten together a good team."

The SPD's economic forum, a coalition of companies and trade associations, said in a statement, "the Finance Ministry is on good footing with Jörg Kukies," who it described as a "renowned international expert."

Read more: Olaf Scholz, the man headed to Germany's Finance Ministry

Veteran returns: The finance ministry also announced on Monday that veteran official Werner Gatzer would return as a deputy finance minister responsible for budgetary affairs. Gatzer, who will make the switch from state-owned train giant Deutsche Bahn (DB), last served in the finance ministry under former Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

amp/rt (Reuters, dpa, AFP)