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A Top Goldman Banker Raised Ethics Concerns. Then He Was Gone.

Category: Business,Finance

During his 17 years at Goldman, Mr. Katzman earned a reputation as a talented investment banker and a stickler for following rules. Friends and former colleagues, some of whom described him as a “boy scout,” said he viewed ethical issues in black-and-white terms.

“I’d rather be defeated in right than succeed in wrong,” Mr. Katzman said during a 2014 deposition related to a deal he had worked on, attributing the quote to President James A. Garfield.

Mr. Katzman built an impressive roster of clients at Goldman, including Clorox, Hershey and Allergan. In 2006, he moved to the San Francisco area and became the leader of the firm’s West Coast deals business.

By 2014, Mr. Katzman had relocated with his family to Arizona and was commuting to San Francisco.

He had grown upset by what he was seeing at Goldman and felt the bank needed outside scrutiny, according to one of the people close to him.

In one instance, he was dismayed by Goldman’s efforts to hire the child of a client, according to people close to Mr. Katzman and to the firm. He became especially troubled after the candidate was caught lying during the interview process. Mr. Katzman argued that should disqualify him, but some of his colleagues persisted in trying to hire the person. Ultimately, the candidate was rejected.

Mr. Katzman’s larger concern stemmed from what he was witnessing while working on corporate deals.

In 2014, he was the lead banker working to defend Allergan, the maker of Botox, against a hostile takeover by Valeant Pharmaceuticals and the hedge fund Pershing Square Capital. Mr. Katzman had sensitive information about Allergan’s strategy for fending off the suitors.

As the battle unfolded, a Goldman partner approached Mr. Katzman and sought information about Allergan, saying he planned to share it with another Goldman client, the people close to Mr. Katzman said. Mr. Katzman considered the request a violation of bank rules meant to protect confidential client information, and he rebuffed his colleague.


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