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Originally published Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 12:11 AM

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WaMu's Killinger "exceedingly sorrowful" over toll on employees

Former Washington Mutual CEO Kerry Killinger, who has stayed out of the public eye in the past year, responded Saturday to several questions about the effect of the bank's collapse on former employees.

Former Washington Mutual CEO Kerry Killinger, who has stayed out of the public eye in the past year, responded Saturday to several questions about the effect of the bank's collapse on former employees.

"The impact of the takeover of Washington Mutual was a devastating occurrence for everyone affected including the employees, shareholders and communities in which Washington Mutual did business; and I am exceedingly sorrowful at the personal toll it has taken on all of the employees," Killinger wrote in an e-mail to The Seattle Times.

Killinger said the company had taken measures beginning in 2004 to prepare for a slowing housing market, but couldn't "override the catastrophic nationwide collapse of the housing market and the breakdown of the international financial system."

Asked about his thoughts on being absent from the list of contributors to the fund former CEO Lou Pepper helped set up, Killinger responded: "I care deeply for all of Washington Mutual's employees and I was saddened by the fact that so many excellent and committed people have lost their jobs. My focus has been to work one-on-one with former employees and I have spent hundreds of hours helping people find new employment opportunities and continue to do so.

"I am supportive of this fund and all efforts and initiatives to help our former employees through this difficult period."

Killinger said WaMu took a different approach than many big banks:

"I have spent my entire career in financial services and I can say that the culture at Washington Mutual was different from many other large commercial banks. We focused on creating better products and services for every day consumers and small businesses rather than catering to large corporations and private wealth management clients."

Asked about his future plans, Killinger wrote: "I continue to reside in Seattle, where I spend much of my time helping former Washington Mutual employees find jobs and working with a variety of nonprofit organizations, particularly those with a focus on education."

— Nick Perry

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