Rep. Al Green of Houston did not mince words with banking giant Wells Fargo on the House floor on Wednesday.
In a hearing grilling former Wells Fargo executives for the bank’s massive account fraud scandal, Green questioned why no one from Wells Fargo had gone to jail for deceiving customers and committing fraud.
“It seems that they are not only too big to fail, they are also too big to jail,” Green said in his opening statement. “This issue has to be resolved and it cannot be resolved by simply paying off the government.”
“Wells Fargo cannot be too big to prosecute,” Green said later.
In 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau revealed that Wells Fargo had opened fraudulent accounts in the name of clients without their consent, sparking federal regulators to hit Wells Fargo with billions of dollars in fines and settlements.
This week’s hearings comes after a report released last Thursday by the House Financial Services Committee (where Green serves as the chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations) slammed the bank’s senior leadership for failing to comply with the settlements. The report also faulted regulators for failing to enforce their terms.
“This report demonstrates not only that Wells Fargo is failing to comply with the terms of multiple settlement agreements dating back to 2016 and 2018, but also that our federal regulators have simply failed to enforce those agreements, despite having ample tools and authorities under existing law to do some,” Green said.
“Wells Fargo has got to understand that it cannot continue with what appears to be a criminal enterprise,” he concluded.
Elsewhere in his comments on the House floor, Green derided the big profits made by major banks, advocated for stronger whistleblower protections, and pressured Wells Fargo and other banks to address issues of systemic racism within the industry.
Photo: Al Green Congressional website