Senator Elizabeth Warren blasted the CEO of Wells Fargo for firing employees after the bank was busted opening phony accounts rather than stepping down himself.
Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf testified to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and said he was “deeply sorry” that his employees had opened the bogus accounts. But he insisted that it wasn’t just a “scheme” to inflate the stock price and put hundreds of millions of dollars in his own pocket.
More than 5,300 employees were fired earlier this month for moving customers’ money without authorization to create phony accounts. On Tuesday, Warren gave an epic takedown of Stumpf and his choice to put the blame on employees rather than taking responsibility himself.
“You haven’t returned a single nickel of your personal earnings, you haven’t fired a single senior executive,” Warren said. “Instead, evidently, your definition of accountable is to push the blame to your low-level employees who don’t have the money for a fancy PR firm to defend themselves.”
“It’s gutless leadership,” she declared. “Cross-selling is all about pumping up Wells’ stock price.”
Warren continued, using Stumpf’s own words against him.
“Do you know how much your stock holdings in Wells Fargo gained while this scam was underway?” Warren asked.
“It was not a scam,” Stumpf argued. “And cross-sell is a way of deepening relationships.”
Warren cut him off right in the middle of his bullsh*t explanation: “We’ve been through this, Mr. Stumpf. I asked you a very simple question. Do you know how much the value of your stock went up while this scam was going on?”
Stumpf couldn’t come up with an answer to the question, but Warren hardly seemed to notice and continued her assault.
“The share price during this time period went up by about $30,” she noted. “Which comes out to more than $200 million in gains. All for you personally, and thanks in part to those cross-selling numbers.”
“When it all blew up, you kept your job, you kept your multi-million-dollar bonuses and you went on television to blame thousands of $12 an hour employees who were just trying to meet cross-sell quotas that made you rich,” Warren asserted. “You should resign, you should give back the money that you took while this scam was going on and you should be criminally investigated by both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
Warren then slammed the Wall Street bankers who have never been forced to face any real consequences for their shady business practices.
“The only way that Wall Street will change is if executives face jail time when they preside over massive frauds,” she said. “We need tough new laws to hold corporate executives personally accountable, and we need tough prosecutors who have the courage to go after people at the top.”
“Until then, it will be business as usual. And at giant banks like Wells Fargo, that seems to mean cheating as many customers, investors, and employees as they possibly can.”
Watch Elizabeth Warren’s epic takedown of the Wells Fargo CEO, here:
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