During the Senate Banking Committee hearing this Tuesday at Capitol Hill, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf attempted to defend the allegations of fraud that have been happening within the company for the past several years. The scandal in discussion went on from 2011 to 2015, in which employees of Wells Fargo opened as many as 2 million fake accounts in the names of existing customers in order to receive personal bonuses, without knowledge or consent of the customers.
While the scandal came to light in 2013 due to the Los Angeles Times, the company has been slow to correct their substantial financial errors. Since 2013, Wells Fargo has fired 5,300 employees, none of whom hold an executive position. To settle the claims, Wells Fargo has reached a $185 million settlement earlier this month, with local and federal regulators including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of Currency.
Though Stumpf has offered his apologies and claims he is “accountable” for the actions of the company, Senator Elizabeth Warren, along with others, feels he has done nothing to actually be held accountable for the damage done to millions of Americans. The Massachusetts State Senator called out Stumpf on Tuesday for his “gutless leadership,” stating, “Your definition of 'accountable' is to push the blame to your low-level employees.”
During the hearing held on Tuesday, Stumpf reluctantly admitted that he has not returned any of the money he earned during the time of the scandal. While he claims to be taking responsibility, he still insists that the company did not pressure employees to “cross-sell” products in order to earn higher wages, adding that the culture of the company is not to blame.
Unsatisfied with Stumpf’s weak responses to her questions, Warren spoke passionately about problems within Wall Street, saying “the only way that Wall Street will change is if executives face jail time when they preside over massive frauds.”
As John Stumpf stumbled to restore the company’s broken reputation, Elizabeth Warren spoke what many have been thinking the past several years, “You should resign. You should give back the money you took while this scam was going on and you should be criminally investigated.”