I was in Prescott, Arizona , watching on a hotel TV the Wells-Fargo chairman -of-the-board , or whomever he is , sitting before Congress . Wells-Fargo Bank has been defrauding their customers , evidently , for several years by opening accounts never requested and charging fees for services never requested . Bank policy was to pressure low level employees in bank branches to bring their new account numbers , etc. , up . Corporate quotas pushed some employees to break the law , and about 5000 of those people were fired over a period of years.
One point brought up in the Congressional hearings was that this illegal activity had gone on year after year after year . Employees were fired each year for this illegal activity but the quotas and “culture” that had pressured them to do that was never changed , year by year by year .
Then it all was exposed by the L.A Times and hit the national airwaves .
The chairman then , evidently , apologized for ripping off customers year after year after year after year and promised to make things right .
A Congressman from New England held up a picture of a man who had robbed a bank , got caught , whose bail was set , I think ,at $ 170,000 , and who stood a good chance of being sentenced to prison for a long long time . The money had been returned , and this robber had apologized , too . ” What makes you different from this man ? ” the Congressman asked the bank executive . I thought that it was a good question .
Anyway , I was watching some of this on a TV in a hotel room . It got me thinking , later , of my bank experiences . They’re not up on the realm of the Wells -Fargo stuff . I have never had an account with Wells-Fargo . If I had I might be one of those victims , ripped off , because I’m not good at checking details in bank statements . I might have even seen an odd 25 dollar charge on my statement , wondered what it was all about , and then just forgotten about it . I’ll write about my bank traumas in a future post .
This bank chairman was required by the Wells -Fargo Bank board , after all of this made such bad publicity nationally for the bank , to “return” forty-one million dollars of his pay this year . That , I must say , has never happened to me . I’d be in a bit of a financial bind if it did . The $41,000,000 makes up about one forth of this guy’s yearly pay . I don’t know how he’ll get by this year on only , maybe , $ 120 million in his pay package . Life is tough all around and prices are going up at the supermarket .
I wish that the reporters would re-investigate this a few months from now . I suspect they’d find that this $41,000,000 amount would have been somehow reimbursed , quietly , and hidden in this guy’s mattress or under the floorboards of his outhouse .
Will he do jail time ? I’ll make a bet with you right now . Let’s say we bet $100,000,000 . ( That way you’ll still be able to have $20 million or so to live on . I have a heart , after all ! ) I say he does no jail time . None .
Oh , there will be investigations , of course . All the cogs will be cogging , as now all of the Senate and House of Representative members are sputtering for the cameras , and in the end this guy will , at most , get a hefty fine and maybe even some kind of probation . Hopefully some of the Wells Fargo Board of Directors will get the same awful treatment . Maybe some of them , as a result , will have to sell one of their houses or cut next year’s vacation short . Who knows . They should certainly check with their accountant firms and their tax lawyers . (I see big write-offs in their futures .)
Ah , but I am just whining . Sour grapes ? No . Negative . Just a bubbling up of my inner cynicism .