June 2, 2009 / 9:42 PM / 8 years ago

Goldman Sachs names ex-SEC chief Levitt as adviser

<p>Former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt participates in a roundtable discussion with other prior chairmen at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York February 22, 2006. REUTERS/Seth Wenig</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Clinton-era Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt has signed on as an advisor to Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), the Wall Street firm said on Tuesday.

The role, in which Levitt will provide Goldman with strategic advice in a number of areas, adds to other industry positions he has taken since leaving the SEC -- the U.S. securities industry watchdog -- in 2001.

Levitt, 78, also draws a paycheck from private equity group Carlyle CYL.UL and financial information provider Bloomberg. He declined a request for an interview.

“He will be a good source of advice,” said Lawrence White, an economics professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “He knows a lot of people in government, so it won’t hurt on the lobbying side. Who knows what they are paying him? But I‘m sure they are getting their money’s worth.”

Levitt was the longest-serving chairman of the SEC, having led the commission starting in 1993, regulating the industry during the froth of the Internet boom.

Levitt also led the SEC as financier Bernard Madoff began his multibillion dollar fraud, prompting some congressmen to ask that he testify on the matter.

The appointment adds to a history of ties between Goldman and the upper echelons of the U.S. government. Former U.S. Treasury Secretaries Hank Paulson and Robert Rubin were both Goldman alumni as was Assistant Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari, who oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program devised by Paulson.

In addition to his role as a senior adviser to The Carlyle Group and Goldman, he also holds similar positions with Promontory Financial Group, a banking consultant, and Getco, a Chicago-based market maker.

He also serves on the board of Bloomberg, which competes with Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO) in providing financial news and information.

NYU’s White said he did not see any conflicts of interest in Levitt’s roles.

“It isn’t like he is a full-time CEO somewhere else and sitting on these boards,” White said. “It sounds like he is keeping busy and I‘m sure all of these things will pay him handsomely.”

Chris Ullman, a spokesman for The Carlyle Group, welcomed the news of Levitt’s appointment, saying it was “only natural” that he would be in demand.

Both Goldman and Carlyle declined to comment on Levitt’s compensation.

Reporting by Steve Eder; Editing by Tim Dobbyn, Leslie Gevirtz

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