WASHINGTON — The Independent Community Bankers of America has joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in calling for the removal of Wells Fargo’s board of directors.
“Wells Fargo’s conduct is outrageous and unacceptable,” ICBA President and Chief Executive Officer Cam Fine said in a press release Wednesday.
Wells significantly raised its estimates last week of the number of consumers affected by its phony-accounts scandal, while also responding to allegations that it charged roughly 800,000 people for auto insurance that they did not want or need.
“Week after week, month after month, additional scandals are uncovered at Wells Fargo involving hundreds of thousands of customer,” Fine said. “Had this been a community bank board and senior managers, not only would they all have been removed from the bank months ago, but they would also be facing prosecution."
“The Wells Fargo board should be replaced, and so should its senior management. End of story,” he added.
Fine's remarks echo those of Warren, who sent a letter to Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen in June calling on the Fed to use its authority to remove 12 current board members who served between 2011 and 2015, the time period during which bank employees were opening phony accounts in order to meet aggressive sales goals.
“How could removal of these board members not be warranted, given the facts that we already know?” Warren asked Yellen during a July hearing.
Wells Fargo responded to Fine’s comments, saying that the bank has already taken numerous steps to hold senior management accountable.
“Wells Fargo’s board and management team have taken dozens of actions in response to retail sales practices issues, including changes in senior leadership, executive accountability measures and numerous steps to ensure we make things right with any affected customer,” said Wells Fargo spokeswoman Jennifer Dunn. “That work continues and remains a core part of our efforts to build a better Wells Fargo for the future.”
The bank replaced John Stumpf, who was CEO at the time of the scandal, and clawed back millions in his pay.
Fine said the lack of action by regulators is another sign that they are “compromised” and unable to hold big banks accountable.
“There is not supposed to be a double standard for regulation and enforcement in this nation, but the wrongdoings of Wells Fargo show us that apparently one exists for too-big-to-fail banks,” said Fine, who added that the Wells scandals has tarnished not only its reputation, but the industries as well.