Sadly banking scandals are nothing new, but they do seem to be appearing with increasing frequency these days. Wells Fargo has become the poster child for offending banks and their scandals. Their antics have affected millions of customers now. The latest one was just revealed last week and involved the Department of Labor.
It was only the week before that when Wells signed a billion dollar check for its last scandal. This particular one involved a car insurance scheme in which they defrauded over 570,000 of their own customers. The bank has even admitted that upwards of 20,000 of these same clients suffered having their cars, trucks, and SUV’s repossessed because they could not afford the premiums which Wells Fargo had foisted on them.
In November of 2017, Wells Fargo again found itself in trouble for repossessing vehicles (illegally) that military members and families owned. October saw them caught for intentionally promoting investments that they believed to be “highly likely to lose value.” Of course earlier that same month, the bank confessed to having charged late fees erroneously to over 100,000 of their own borrowers. The catch was that all associated payment delays resulted from mistakes made by the bank itself.
Before that in 2016, many Wells Fargo California branch based employees were convicted of selling private customer information (such as Social Security numbers) to an identity thief ring. To top it all off, 2016 and 2017 witnessed their now infamous “fake accounts” scandal that impacted literally millions of customers and involved tens of millions in falsely opened accounts.
This particular week’s trouble at the bank surrounds retirement accounts. The U.S. Department of Labor is investigating Wells Fargo for intentionally steering clients of the bank into higher fees and costs retirement accounts. Naturally such accounts are highly profitable for the bank but bad for the bank’s own customers.
Wells Fargo is not alone in such deceptive practices (though they seem to have been caught far more often than the others). Practically all of the mega banks of the globe ranging from Bank of America to Barclays and Citigroup to JP Morgan to UBS have been caught in recent years defrauding their account holders and members of the public in some meaningful way.
Yet no executives from Wells Fargo or any of the other major banks have done any jail time or been convicted of their heinous financial crimes. On the contrary, the bank executive most responsible for the false accounts debacle departed from Wells back in 2016 with a tidy $67 million in severance pay. The replacement CEO was subsequently rewarded with a full 35 percent increase in pay while the bank’s profits and share price have struggled.
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