Belfast Telegraph

Goldman Sachs' boss joins chorus of business concern over travel ban

The chief executive of Goldman Sachs has joined a chorus of business leaders voicing concern over US president Donald Trump's travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees.

Lloyd Blankfein told employees at the banking giant that Goldman does not support the policy, which has resulted in travel chaos and global protests.

The chief executive's voicemail message said that Mr Trump's measures have the potential to disrupt the firm and impact staff caught up in the mayhem.

"This is not a policy we support, and I would note that it has already been challenged in federal court, and some of the order has been enjoined at least temporarily.

"If the order were to become or remain effective, I recognise that there is potential for disruption to the firm, and especially to some of our people and their families.

"I want to assure all of you that we will work to minimise such disruption to the extent we can within the law and are focused on supporting our colleagues and their families who may be affected," Mr Blankfein said.

His comments come after a number of prominent tech bosses - at firms such as Airbnb, Twitter, Uber and Tesla - lashed out at Mr Trump's move.

Sir Martin Sorrell, boss of advertising giant WPP, said he has an "instinctive dislike" of the measures, referencing his family's immigrant background.

Sir Martin said: "We are concerned about the impact it may have on our people and their families both inside and outside the USA and on innocent people generally.

"As the grandson of eastern European grandparents, who were admitted to the UK in the very late 19th and early 20th centuries, I have an instinctive dislike of such measures."

Starbucks also weighed into the debate, saying it will hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years in response to Mr Trump's indefinite suspension of Syrian refugees.

The bosses of Apple, Google and Facebook also moved to criticise the president. Apple chief executive Tim Cook wrote in a memo to employees: "It is not a policy we support.

"We have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our co-workers and our company."

"Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do," Mr Cook wrote - an apparent reference not only to the company's foreign-born employees, but to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the son of a Syrian immigrant.

The US tech industry relies on foreign engineers and other technical experts for a sizeable percentage of its workforce.

Business lobby group the Institute of Directors said Mr Trump's move could "seriously undermine business and trade".

Insurance giant Axa UK has said it will accept compensation claims from customers affected by the policy. Although not "technically covered", Axa flagged the unprecedented nature of Mr Trump's travel ban.

A British Airways (BA) spokeswoman said "affected customers" can claim a refund for their travel to the US or rebook their flights, adding that the airline always meets its obligations under international immigration agreements.