Obama, Clinton silent on Wells Fargo Crime of the Century
By Mark Wachtler
Sen. Elizabeth Warren rips into Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf during a Senate hearing yesterday. Image courtesy of Gazettenet.com.
September 21, 2016. San Francisco, CA (ONN) By all accounts, Wells Fargo has been perpetrating the crime of the century. Some have called it the largest illegal scam in history. Over the past five years, at least two million crimes were committed by 5,300 employees of Wells Fargo bank. The Obama administration has retained its perfect record of protecting bankers from criminal prosecution, settling like always for a large cash payment to the same Executive Branch that refuses to prosecute.
Not a single conviction in 8 years
There’s a reason why most bank executives, while being longtime Republicans, are supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton for President. We’d be speculating if we revealed their reasons. But this week’s bombshell that Wells Fargo bank perpetrated the largest crime in American history and the Obama administration has continued its longstanding policy of not bringing a single offender to justice, suggests there’s more to the cozy relationship between criminal banks and Democratic Party leaders like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
It took a Senate Committee hearing yesterday in which Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf was crucified by Democrat and Republican Senators alike, for the American people to find out just how big and widespread the five-year crime spree at Wells Fargo was. The LA Times exposed the fraud three years ago with California prosecutors conceding the crime was too large and too widespread for its limited capabilities to prosecute, opting instead for a cash payment from the bank. But the Obama Justice Dept is accused of refusing to investigate the largest crime in history until only days ago.
The crime of the century
As revealed in the Senate Committee hearing yesterday, the details of the Wells Fargo fraud perpetrated on the American people are mind-blowing. As one US Senator put it, the number of victims of this latest fraud is more than double the whole population of his entire state.
5,300 Wells Fargo employees were identified and fired for opening over 2 million bank accounts for their customers without the customers’ knowledge. A separate US Senator said his office was flooded with calls from outraged small, local bank executives in his state who insisted that if they or their employees stole money from their customers’ accounts, forged customers’ signatures to open new accounts, and then stole even more money from the new accounts in the form of fees and fines – they’d all be in jail.
But the Obama Justice Department, as well as a host of Executive Branch regulatory agencies, has continued its policy of protecting individual perpetrators from criminal prosecution opting instead for cash payments from shareholders to the Obama administration. In this case, Wells Fargo was ordered to pay a $185 million fine to the government. That amount pales in comparison to the $5 billion in profits the bank pockets every quarter.
Crime does pay
In grilling the Wells Fargo CEO yesterday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) accused him of personally pocketing millions of dollars from the scam. The bank executive who oversaw the criminal activity – Carrie Tolstedt – has announced she is leaving the bank, and she’s leaving with a cash payout of $124 million.
Outraged critics of the Obama administration’s handling of recurring crimes perpetrated by giant Wall Street banks point out that they also happen to be some of his and Hillary Clinton’s largest financial contributors. They repeatedly point out that not a single person has been brought to justice for any crime committed by any of the big banks since Barack Obama took office.
They point to the economic collapse of 2008-2009. They point to the robo-signing scam in which over 1 million American families and businesses had their homes and property stolen by Bank of America and Wells Fargo, only to have the Obama Justice Dept settle for a payment of a few thousand dollars to each victim instead of the return of their homes. They point to illegal money laundering for Iran by Standard Chartered and illegal money laundering for Mexican drug cartels by HSBC. JP Morgan Chase has been convicted multiple times both criminally and civilly. But in every case, not a single person ever went to jail.
Critics of the Democrat administration also point out that under Republican administrations, hundreds of criminal bankers were put in jail. They also point to the imprisonment of Worldcom’s executives, and Enron’s executives, and a host of others. Under Democrats, they argue, not a single banker has gone to prison. In fact, in 2008 after the economic collapse banks were deemed “too big to fail, too big to jail”. But under President Obama, they’ve gotten even bigger, and obviously still too big to jail.
Clinton and Obama silent
One Senator summed up the unified outrage by all Americans yesterday when he said Wells Fargo had managed to do something that has never happened in his entire political career – uniting Senators from both parties in their outrage at the fraud committed, and the Obama administration’s refusal to prosecute it.
And while big named Democrats from this year’s Presidential campaign like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have publicly condemned the fraud, other Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have remained ominously silent.
“You squeezed your employees to the breaking point so they would cheat customers and you could drive up the value of your stock and put hundreds of millions of dollars in your own pocket,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren told the Wells Fargo CEO yesterday, “You should resign. You should give back the money you took while the scam was going on.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders was also outspoken in his condemnation. “Let’s be clear, the business model of Wall Street is fraud,” he said yesterday, “There is no better example than the recently-exposed illegal behavior at Wells Fargo.”
For her part, Hillary Clinton also made a public statement in the form of an open letter to Wells Fargo customers. But instead of condemning the activity as unpunished crime like all of her counterparts have, Clinton excused the fraud as accidental mismanagement due to the enormous size of the nation’s largest bank. “We need to make sure that no financial institution is too big to manage,” Clinton told Wells Fargo customers, “And if any bank can’t be managed effectively, it should be broken up.”
Senate hearings on the Wells Fargo fraud will continue, with Senators turning their attention to federal regulators who turned a blind eye, bank auditors and risk managers who had to know about the scam, and the independent accounting firm that signed-off on the criminal activity.
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The Outrageous List of JP Morgan Crimes and Settlements
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