Biography: Blankfein has served as CEO and chairman of the Wall Street investment firm Goldman Sachs since 2006. He took over for Henry Paulson, who left the firm to serve as U.S. Treasury secretary.
Why he’s a contender: One of Forbes Magazine’s “Most Outrageous CEOs,” he once famously answered a reporter’s question about Wall Street compensation by saying he’s “doing God’s work.”
What his firm did: Goldman made huge profits during the subprime mortgage crisis by betting that Americans would default on their home loans.
They did, and his firm made $4 billion.
And yet Goldman also received bailout money from the federal government at the same time it paid huge bonuses to its executives.
The company also has been criticized for betting products it sold its clients would fail.
In July, Goldman settled a lawsuit for $26.6 million that it had misled investors into buying risky mortgage securities.
The firm also faces a number of other lawsuits for its practices related to the meltdown of the mortgage industry.
Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi once called the firm a “vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”