US banker. Notorious for his bullish speculation, Mitchell was the first witness in the Gray-Pecora Wall Street probe (1932–34), which uncovered abuses by Mitchell and the National City Bank that appalled even the financial community and brought an end to ownership of investment affiliates by commercial banks.
Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and an Amherst graduate (1899), in 1906 he joined the Trust Company of America in New York, New York, then ran his own investment house, C E Mitchell Company (1911–16). Becoming vice-president of National City Company, an affiliate of National City Bank in 1916, he turned it into a private investment banking firm with 50 branches in the USA and Europe. By 1921 he was president of both the investment affiliate and the National City Bank; by 1929 he was chair of the parent organization. He flaunted a $25 million advance to traders when the Federal Reserve Bank was attempting to curb speculation in 1929; after the great crash, he was investigated by a US Senate committee and, having admitted to speculating on the bank's securities, he was forced to resign in 1933. In 1938 he paid the government $1.4 million in interest and penalties for tax evasion. But his investment banking career continued with Blyth and Company (chair of the board, 1935) and C E Mitchell, Incorporated (until 1941) and he held directorships with the National Bank of Haiti and the ITT Corporation, among other companies.