Goldman CEO says exec Dina Powell will not attend Saudi investment conference

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Goldman Sachs pulled one of its top executives from attending a conference in Saudi Arabia after the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to CEO David Solomon.

The firm was set to send Dina Powell to the conference but decided against it amid the uproar over Khashoggi’s apparent murder, Solomon said in an interview with CNBC’s Wilfred Frost on Thursday. Khashoggi vanished earlier this month following a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Powell serves on the New York-based bank’s powerful management committee and had a stint as a senior advisor to the Trump administration.

“This incident is unacceptable, and clearly they have to answer questions,” Solomon said. “How they answer those questions and how more information becomes apparent around this will have an impact on how we all interact.”

Solomon, who officially began as CEO of Goldman on Oct. 1, is tasked with continuing the transformation of the company from a primarily Wall Street firm to one that reaches far more retail and corporate customers. Part of his challenge is to seek more revenue from the firm’s traditional clients among governments and sovereign wealth funds.

“With respect to Saudi Arabia over the last couple of years, we’ve listened as they’ve talked about their vision to participate more broadly in the global economy and diversify economically and also to remake or remodel their society,” Solomon said. “We’ve listened and watched that. And to the degree that they could deliver on that, that would be good for Saudi Arabia and good for the world.”

— CNBC’s Tom Franck contributed to this report.

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