Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are not satisfied with the fines being imposed on Wells Fargo after they defrauded thousands of customers.
Sanders and Warren have written a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking for a full investigation into senior Wells Fargo executives. They also do not want her to rule out criminal charges.
The letter has been co-signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), Al Franken (D-Minnesota), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon).
In the letter, Sanders and Warren call for the Department of Justice to “thoroughly investigate the culpability of senior executives at the bank. We believe this is a critical test of the Department’s promise last September to “strengthen [its] pursuit of individual corporate wrongdoing” and to “focus on individuals from the inception of the investigation.”
The “promise” they are referring to was from a memo last September in which the Justice Department promised to change the corrupt two-tiered system by prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of individual corporate employees, “[o]ne of the most effective ways to combat corporate misconduct is by seeking accountability from the individuals who perpetrated the wrongdoing.”
Sanders and Warren echo the public outrage, stating “Americans are rightly frustrated when they see that justice for the wealthy and powerful is very different than justice for everybody else. A bank teller that takes a handful of bills from the cash drawer is likely to face charges for theft and prison time. She can’t hide behind an army of lawyers and corporate policies that diffuse accountability for those at the top. Meanwhile, 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. It’s no wonder that Americans are skeptical of the effectiveness of our criminal justice system.”
Wells Fargo became under fire last month when they fired 5,300 employees for opening over 2 million accounts without customers’ consent. The bank utilizes these accounts to charge customers fees from their regular accounts. Senator Warren initially called a Senate investigative committee to look into the fraud, and even called for CEO John Stumpf to resign. Stumpf refused, but was forced to pay back the money made from the fraudulent account openings as well as a portion of his salary.
You can read the entire letter from Senators Sanders and Warren here.