Last week, I published my extended thoughts on the latest Wells Fargo scandal on Facebook. I've reposted them here and included a link to my original post below. If you're inclined, please join me and others in our conversation on Facebook.
It’s time for Wells Fargo to go.
Wells Fargo was just fined $185 million and fired more than 5000 employees for engaging in a systematic scheme to add fake credit and debit cards, bank accounts and more to existing customer’s portfolios without the knowledge of the customer. Often, customer funds were diverted without authorization to pay fees on these accounts, with the occasional consequence of overdrawing the unknowing customer’s own real accounts which naturally resulted in even more very real fines for the customers.
The employees perpetrating the evidently widespread fraud were incentivized with bonuses for exactly these sorts of transactions when performed with the willing awareness of their customers. It does not currently appear as though any of the banking executives at Wells Fargo who’d encouraged and incentivized the behavior will be casualties of the scandal. It’s time they were.
$185 million in fines barely moves the penalty needle for Wells Fargo when considering that they come on top of the almost $11 billion in fines Wells Fargo has incurred since 2010. And yet the leadership remains unchanged, unaffected, and extremely wealthy. Why do our politicians and our media let these wounds to the integrity of our financial system continue?
Unsurprisingly Wells Fargo is a major contributor to political campaigns. According to OpenSecrets.org, they’re in the top 100 in both contributions and lobbying, with over $11 million already spent to influence the 2016 campaign. Who are the politicians that Wells Fargo contributed financially to? How have those politicians voted on questions regarding the financial services industry? What are the PACs that they contributed to? Much of this is listed at OpenSecrets.org. Why aren’t more reporters doing their proper task of uncovering wrongdoing and exposing all the ways the rascals have worked to keep their criminal empires going? And why do we continue to let crooks, as well as other large institutions that have no right to vote, so dominate our political process?
None of this is good for our country or our world, and I’m left with the inescapable conclusion that it is time for Wells Fargo and other entities that get caught behaving similarly to be broken up. It’s time for America to take a stand for integrity and freedom and against the crooks and criminals at the heart of our financial and political and social institutions. How is it that we can let an organization that was fined hugely during the mortgage crisis get away with another large crime with merely a slap on the wrist of a few hundred million dollars? At some point, we must say enough is enough.
How long will we condone these experiments of profit and self-interest for large institutions at the expense of our citizenry and the integrity of our financial system? If large institutions are not dedicated to delivering freedom to consumers and to modeling integrity in everything that they do, they should forfeit their right to exist.
As to the leaders of the company, how can Wells Fargo fire over 5000 petty criminals and not fire the criminals and bosses who were in charge? A great leader inspires us to be better people than we are. The leaders of Wells Fargo, both in management and on the board, instead inspired their employees to be crooks. These so-called leaders should leave now and be banned from all future leadership positions. It’s time we had a financial system we could all believe in.