Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo called on a crowd of wealthy Republic National Bank of New York clients to give more to society.

Mr. Cuomo, now a partner at the New York law firm of Willkie, Farr & Gallagher, spoke Wednesday at the first of what the bank said would be annual forums on philanthropy. Republic has offered U.S. private banking for five years.

The poor need more private donations and more government help too, Mr. Cuomo said in a lunchtime speech.

"Charities can build a bridge only a short way across the chasm. The rest must be done by the real form of charity: our government," he said.

He told the 110 affluent diners that though more people in the United States than ever before are making over $100,000, the "middle class is sagging." He also cited such symptoms of economic ills as the need for $150 billion to refurbish public schools and the fact that 41 million Americans lack health insurance.

All Americans are "interconnected," Mr. Cuomo observed.

"We've been told we can't share without hurting the strongest of us," he said. "That's simply not true."

The all-day forum was held in response to client requests for more information on charitable giving, said Leslie E. Bains, executive vice president of domestic private banking and investments at Republic. Her group manages $9 billion of client assets.

Clients and prospects also attended wide-ranging sessions covering topics such as foundation and tax-planning strategies and what to expect when working with a nonprofit organization.

"Our objective as a private bank is really to impart knowledge to our clients," Ms. Bains said.

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