Robert Steel, a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner and Wachovia Corp. chief executive before becoming New York’s deputy mayor for economic development, has avoided ethical traps posed by investments and past corporate ties, the city’s Conflict of Interest Board ruled.
Steel joined the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2010 after having been a president, CEO and board member of Wachovia. He correctly recused himself from “substantial decisions or deliberations” involving Wachovia parent company Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), the board decided.
Steel doesn’t have to distance himself from city business involving Goldman, where he worked from 1976 until 2004, and in which he owns no stock, the board said. He also may deal with Citigroup Inc., even though he’s among several defendants in a lawsuit by the bank stemming from his Wachovia work, the board ruled in a decision released today.
Steel, 60, has led city efforts to attract an engineering school run by Cornell University and Israel’s Technion Institute, created a biotechnology campus on Manhattan’s East Side and pushed employment centers that Bloomberg said found 35,000 jobs for New Yorkers in 2011.
Before taking the Wachovia post, Steel was an undersecretary in the Treasury Department under Henry Paulson, the former chief executive of Goldman (GS), who held the post under President George W. Bush. Prior to that, Steel served as a senior fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He lectured there on U.S. financial regulation.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
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