PHILADELPHIA – September 30, 2016 – Hearkening back to an earlier era of the apartheid divestment movement, Councilwoman Cindy Bass (8th District) sponsored a resolution calling for hearings on the unethical financial practices of Wells Fargo Bank and their impact on Philadelphians. The resolution, which was unanimously passed by City Council yesterday, also calls on Council’s Finance Committee to consider the feasibility of removing Wells Fargo as an Authorized City Depository. According to the City Treasurer’s office, Philadelphia has approximately $3 billion deposited in Wells Fargo. The resolution states that Wells Fargo Bank directed its employees to open unauthorized bank, credit card, and other accounts for their customers on a massive scale. These accounts, for which consumers did not consent to or even know about, then triggered various fees, which were charged to consumers and eventually damaged many of their credit ratings. Wells Fargo employees were pressured to implement this practice known as “cross-selling,” in order to reach mandated quotas for new accounts or banking products.
Wells Fargo fired at least 5,300 employees, 90% of whom were non-management and paid on an hourly basis, for succumbing to such pressure, while no top executives were fired or lost bonus money. Senator Elizabeth Warren, during last week’s Senate Banking Committee hearings, elicited that during the period that cross-selling of retail accounts was rampant Wells Fargo stock values skyrocketed, realizing personal gains to CEO John Stumpf of upwards of $200 million.
Councilwoman Bass questioned those who might suggest that Philadelphia cannot change its relationship with Wells Fargo, particularly since Council has the sole authority to determine what
financial institutions can be official city depositories. Bass referenced the recent decision by the State of California, the largest issuer of municipal bonds in the nation, to suspend several key banking relationships with Wells Fargo, believing that Philadelphia would be in good company if it took similar action. “If they are doing it, why aren’t we?” Bass stated.
“Why is the City of Philadelphia still doing business with a bank that has admitted to committing fraud? If I opened an account in someone else’s name, using their information, I’d be behind bars, yet the Wells Fargo executives have kept their jobs, received their bonuses while firing over 5,300 lower-level employees for implementing company policy.”
Bass concluded that she looks forward to a full hearing on this matter, delving into the divestment issue as well as testimony from Wells Fargo employees and customers who were adversely impacted by the bank’s practices.
Councilwoman Cindy Bass represents the 8th Council District, which includes Germantown, Mt. Airy, Nicetown, Tioga, Chestnut Hill, portions of Logan, and West Oak Lane. She is Chair of Council’s committees on Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and Public Health and Human Services. More info at phlcouncil.com/CindyBass
View Councilwoman Cindy Bass’ remarks on Wells Fargo:
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