by Pete Mazzaccaro
City Councilman Cindy Bass, whose 8th District includes Chestnut Hill, sponsored a resolution last week that called for a City Council hearing on divesting city money from Wells Fargo Bank.
Bass’ call for divestment is in response to the recent discovery that bank employees had opened unauthorized accounts, credit cards and other products in the name of customers. When the fraud was discovered, the bank fired 5,300 employees after it was slapped with $185 million in penalties in California.
Wells Fargo CEO John Strumpf was grilled last week by the Senate Banking Committee and deflected blame for the fraud on the employees. Some of those employees are now suing the bank for unlawful termination.
Bass noted the decision by California municipalities to pull out of Wells Fargo and said she believed Philadelphia should do the same.
“If they are doing it, why aren’t we”? Bass said. “Why is the City of Philadelphia still doing business with a bank that has admitted to committing fraud? If I opened an account in someone else’s name, using their information, I’d be behind bars, yet the Wells Fargo executives have kept their jobs, received their bonuses while firing over 5,300 lower-level employees for implementing company policy.”
According to Bass, the city has approximately $3 billion deposited in Wells Fargo accounts.