Ocasio-Cortez Accuses Wells Fargo Of Being ‘Involved’ In Caging Children

Marco Green
March 14, 2019

"I don't know why our lawyers are arguing that", said Sloan, who is personally named as a defendant in the case, which is moving through federal court.

The CEO of beleaguered Wells Fargo told Congress Tuesday that the bank has cleaned up its act after a series of scandals that affected millions of customers.

On Tuesday, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee, asked if the bank's persistent troubles were evidence that it is "too big to manage".

"Should Wells Fargo be held responsible for the damages incurred by Climate Change due to the financing of fossil fuels and these projects?"

On Tuesday, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) flagged these quotes from filings in an ongoing class-action lawsuit against Wells Fargo that alleges the company hurt shareholders by hiding its vehicle repossession scandal from the public in the months after the fake-account scandal.

During the first hour of the hearing on Tuesday, Democrats and Republicans alike took a tough line on Sloan, quizzing him on the bank's remediation efforts, personnel changes, risk management controls, culture and whether it should be broken up.

"What this long, but impartial list makes clear is that Wells Fargo is a recidivist financial institution that creates widespread harm with a broad set of offenses", said Waters. He said that the total number of products sold without customers' consent may be 3.5 million. In 2012, Wells Fargo paid $175 million to settle allegations from the Justice Department that it had engaged in "systemic discrimination" involving more than 34,000 minority customers. The bank has apparently made little progress in winning over lawmakers. "Robbing your customer is not an error in business", Lynch said.

Want to know why @AOC's popularity keeps climbing?

"And you refuse to let people go to court", Sherman countered.

Tensions also flared as Democrats including Carolyn Maloney of NY and Ayanna Pressley of MA demanded Wells Fargo stop providing financial services to the National Rifle Association and firearms companies. Workers told reporters the goals were unattainable, similar to the ambitious sales targets that had driven Wells Fargo workers to open unauthorized accounts in the past.

Sloan received some backup from Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), who said Waters was advocating for "socialism" that would transform the United States into "Venezuela".

As a result of its misconduct, the Federal Reserve barred Wells from growing its assets above its 2017 levels until the bank showed it had resolved the issues.

'For a period of time, we were involved in financing one of the firms.

But Democrats - and some Republicans - on the House Financial Services Committee didn't seem to be buying it. The committee is also expected to hold a separate hearing with the CEOs of other big banks, such as Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, soon. Waters' office did not confirm the report.

Sloan's prepared remarks emphasized changes the bank has made to culture, sales practices and risk management, as well as efforts to repay wronged customers.

Stephen Beck, founder of the CG42 management consulting firm that advises banks among other industries, said a study conducted by his company belies that claim. The firm surveyed USA banking customers in late 2018.

The confrontation with lawmakers underscored how far Wells Fargo has yet to go to win back the public 30 months after it was fined for opening millions of bogus accounts for consumers.

"Why does Wells Fargo continue to put companies over people?"

"This is an important hearing and you will hear bipartisan criticism of the actions you have taken and the failures that you have overseen under your watch", he said. "But when you think about the wide range of issues they've had over the course of the last few years, and when you think about the relatively modest penalties they've received and the relatively modest changes they've made in light of those challenges".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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