Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein called for the besieged company to undertake a rigorous self-examination, at the annual shareholder meeting on Friday.
There is no bigger priority for our board of directors and management than to undertake a comprehensive review of all of our business practices, Blankfein told shareholders.
Goldman will establish a business standards committee that will report suggestions to management on standards and transparency, he said.
The committee, which Blankfein first broached during U.S. Senate hearings last week but explained in more detail on Friday, is the latest sign that Goldman is responding to the concerns of regulators and the public backlash facing the firm.
Goldman, Wall Street's dominant investment bank, is facing fraud charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has accused the bank of failing to tell investors that the securities underlying risky debt tied to subprime mortgages were chosen by a short-seller, John Paulson, whose fund was betting the securities would lose value.
Goldman has drawn the attention of a Senate subcommittee and is facing shareholder lawsuits. It also is facing a Justice Department criminal investigation, sources previously told Reuters.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Goldman has commenced settlement discussions.
For the past year, Goldman has faced a backlash over its quick rebound from the financial crisis and its bonus pool, which topped $16 billion last year.
Some have speculated that Blankfein might not be able to keep his job through the struggles facing the firm, but he did not offer any indication on Friday that he would step aside.
Longtime corporate Gadfly Evelyn Y. Davis kicked off the question and answer session by calling for Blankfein's voluntary resignation -- and setting a deadline of Monday.
I have no current plan to step down on Monday, answered Blankfein, cracking a smile.
Davis, who had the microphone for several minutes, also questioned Blankfein about his son working for the firm and demanded answers about Goldman's legal expenses. Goldman executives laughed as Davis, well known for her theatrics at shareholder meetings, addressed the meeting.
Shareholders at Friday's meeting are considering proposals relating to compensation issues and political contributions and even an item by The Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic relating to the use of collateral in derivatives trading.
Shareholders are also considering a proposal urging the company to separate the roles of chairman and CEO. Goldman's board has recommended a vote against that proposal. CEO Blankfein is also chairman.
(Reporting by Steve Eder; additional reporting and writing by Maria Aspan. Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Robert MacMillan)