NEW YORK (AP) -- An executive resigning from Goldman Sachs, the powerful investment bank, said in a blistering essay that the company had lost its "moral fiber" and said managing directors there referred to clients as "muppets."
Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman, said the company needs to "weed out the morally bankrupt people" and suggested the erosion of Goldman's culture threatened its survival after 143 years.
Smith wrote that he attended sales meetings in which helping clients make money was not part of the discussion.
"If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client's success or progress was not part of the thought process at all," he wrote.
The essay was published Wednesday on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. It quickly became popular online and was among the topics "trending" on Twitter, the social network.
In a statement, Goldman Sachs said it disagreed with Smith's assessment.
"In our view, we will only be successful if our clients are successful," the statement said. "This fundamental truth lies at the heart of how we conduct ourselves."
Goldman declined to say whether it knew about the essay before it was published.
Goldman is one of the most influential companies on Wall Street and has been called the New York Yankees of finance. Its alumni have advised presidents and run other major companies.
Among its former CEOs are Henry Paulson, who left the company to join the administration of George W. Bush and pushed for the $700 billion bank bailout during the 2008 financial crisis, and Jon Corzine, the former governor of New Jersey.
Smith wrote that there are easy paths to becoming a leader at Goldman, including persuading clients to invest in products the company wants to get rid or will bring the most profit to Goldman.
Another way, he said, is to "find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym."
Smith was identified by the Times as head of the company's United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.