john whitehead


John Whitehead.

Before he died on Feb. 7, former Goldman Sachs cochair John Whitehead was really worried about corruption at the highest levels of New York state government.

In a letter written to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Whitehead had expressed concern that the office of the attorney general was abusing its power and violating ethics in going after business leaders, Business Insider has learned.

Whitehead said he knew complaints had been filed with the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics regarding his concerns, but that he was troubled because he had been advised that state employees were urging the commission to ignore the complaints.

Cuomo’s office never responded to the letter, a close business associate of Whitehead told Business Insider. The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

The revelation of this letter’s existence comes at an interesting time for New York State government, and for Wall Street.

andrew cuomo sheldon silver


New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and former New York State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver in 2012.

In January, one of the most powerful men in the state, New York Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, was taken into FBI custody and charged with corruption.

The charges were brought by New York District Attorney Preet Bharara, who last year had started investigating Silver after Gov. Cuomo shut down a commission meant to weed out corruption. It was called the Moreland Commission.

The governor’s decision to shut down Moreland was met with scrutiny by just about everyone. The New York Times reported that the Governor’s office had “deeply compromised” some of the panel’s work. Government watchdog groups were furious. And Bharara has said that his investigation into where Moreland left off isn’t over yet. More arrests are coming.

Whitehead represented the last of an old era. He joined Goldman Sachs in 1947 when the bank had 300 employees. His starting salary was $ 3,600 a year.

After three decades building Goldman Sachs into the global powerhouse, Whitehead joined the Reagan administration as deputy secretary of state. He was known for having friends on both sides of the aisle.

Whitehead’s story is one you’ll hear less and less on Wall Street as his generation passes.

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