Citadel CEO says a Goldman-spurred reform 'childish'

Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:10pm EDT

* Griffin says to remain client of Goldman Sachs

* Says Goldman a "solid partner" and top notch firm

By Megan Davies and Paritosh Bansal

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. April 26 (Reuters) - A civil fraud case against Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) should not be used to push through financial reform and doing so would be "childish," said Kenneth Griffin, the chief executive of hedge fund Citadel Investment Group.

A broad legislative push by President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats has come at the same time as fraud charges filed against Goldman by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The suit charges that Goldman hid vital information from investors about a subprime mortgage-linked security.

Griffin, speaking on the sidelines of the Milken Institute Global Conference, said the case against Goldman comes down down to a "highly technical point" of whether there was adequate disclosure.

"I think that the disclosure around one transaction being the justification to vilify Goldman Sachs or to pass regulatory reform is just incredible," said Griffin. "I don't want to use the word childish ... but it's childish."

"We should be beyond using one transaction gone awry to justify how we regulate companies that employ collectively 600,000-700,000 people," he added.

He said there are "no winners when you take market leaders out and cast them as being lacking in integrity and ethics."

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of financial reform proposals late last year, and the Senate is due to vote on Monday whether to start working on its own sweeping set of proposals this week.

"I think the Goldman Sachs case has clearly energized the Democrats with respect to passing the regulatory reform," Griffin said.

Griffin, who said his firm would "absolutely" remain a client of Goldman Sachs, described the investment bank as a "top notch organization."

"Do they have a problem here?," said Griffin. "The SEC thinks so and we'll let the courts decide. From my personal experience, Goldman Sachs has been a very solid partner of Citadel."

(Reporting by Megan Davies and Paritosh Bansal; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)