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Hirono calls for investigation of executives at Wells Fargo

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf testified at a House and Senate hearing on Sept. 20.

WASHINGTON » Fourteen senators, including Democrat Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, are calling on the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation of Wells Fargo executives after revelations that bank employees opened millions of fake bank and credit card accounts.

A bank teller who steals bills from a cash drawer is likely to face charges, the senators said in a statement, but “an executive who oversees a massive fraud that implicates thousands of bank employees and costs customers millions of dollars can walk away with a hefty retirement package and millions in the bank.”

House and Senate hearings last month with Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf “raised serious questions” that point to possible wrongdoing by Stumpf and other high-ranking executives, said the senators, all but one of them Democrats.

U.S. and California regulators have fined San Francisco-based Wells Fargo $185 million, saying bank employees trying to meet aggressive sales targets opened up to 2 million fake deposit and credit card accounts in customers’ names. Regulators said employees issued and activated debit cards and signed people up for online banking without permission. The abuses are said to have gone on for years, unchecked by senior management.

In their letter, the senators urged Attorney General Loretta Lynch to hold Wells Fargo accountable as a corporation and also prosecute individual executives who might have broken the law.

“Every time the Department of Justice settles a case of corporate fraud without holding individuals accountable, it reinforces the notion that the wealthy and powerful have purchased a higher class of justice for themselves,” the senators said.

The letter was led by Hirono and signed by 12 other Democrats, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Warren and Merkley serve on the Senate Banking Committee, while Leahy is senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine also signed the letter.

In a related development, 11 Democratic senators, including Hirono, Merkley and Warren, signed a separate letter calling on Wells Fargo to comply with laws intended to protect military service members from predatory financial practices.

The Justice Department and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced a total of $24.1 million in civil penalties against the company for alleged violations, including failure to honor an interest cap on debts owed by service members.

In a settlement with the Justice Department, the bank is paying $4.1 million to resolve allegations it repossessed 413 cars owned by service members without obtaining court orders.

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  • Hirono, there is no Wells Fargo in Hawaii. How about calling for an investigation into our rail debacle instead. Stop jumping on bandwagons to make it look like you are actually doing something besides blinding following party directions.
    Rail is a bigger problem for your State and not a single one of you in the Congressional delegation has lifted a finger to find out about the corruption and malfeasance that has occurred at home and why no one has been held accountable.

  • How about investigating the local banks and their Christmas Club competitions where they get friendly customers to open 10+ accounts and only make the first payment. That is the same sort of cheating as Wells Fargo but on a smaller scale. Look in, and clean up, your own backyard first Hirono and quit grandstanding. We all know you’re an ineffective poser.

  • This Obama Clone, Senator Mazie Hirano, has her, as usual priorities in the wrong place.
    How about investigating the Democratic party control of the legislature. Their years of mismanagment of our tax payers dollars. Just about every year their asking for some type of tax increase. Now they want to tax the miles we drive on our car.
    Hawaii is ranked number 5 in the United States as the highest tax fuel on its citizen. Thats a lot of money being fueled in the State Department of Transporation. So where all that millions of dollars have gone? I have one suggestion: The greedy Democrats in the legislature have took some money from this fuel fund for their pet projects. Look what happened to the Hurricae fund, funded by property owners in this State? It’s been depleeted by the Democrats.
    So Mazie how about investigating your own local party democrats of greed who continue to scratch the barrel of our pocket book for their own mismanagemnet.
    Maybe we should all vote these Democrat incumbants out of office next month. FAT CHANCE!!!. This is a liberal Democrat state and the majority of voters are loyal to their Democrat party and disregard what they got left in their wallet.

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