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Bernie Sanders: Wells Fargo’s business model is fraud

Vermont senator joins Elizabeth Warren in skewering megabank

In what some might consider as much of a foregone conclusion as when Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, expectedly lambasted Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf when given the chance, Sen. Bernie Sanders took to the internet this week to share his views of Wells Fargo, and let’s just say the former Democratic presidential candidate isn’t a fan of the megabank either.

Warren took her turn during Stumpf’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee this week to call out Stumpf’s “gutless leadership” and called for Stumpf to face criminal prosecution for his role in the fake account scandal that’s enveloped the bank.

Sanders, who’s frequently targeted “Wall Street” throughout his political career, didn’t get to grill Stumpf as Warren and others did, so Sanders posted a short article on Medium about Wells Fargo.

The headline of Sanders’ post on Medium: “Wells Fargo’s Business Model is Fraud.”

And the rest goes about like you’d expect.

“Let’s be clear, the business model of Wall Street is fraud,” Sanders begins. “In my view, there is no better example than the recently-exposed illegal behavior at Wells Fargo.”

Sanders writes that Stumpf admitted during his testimony that he knew in 2013 that the bank was “scamming customers,” but did nothing about it, adding that Stumpf’s personal stock in Wells Fargo “shot up in value” by more than $200 million while more than 5,000 of the bank’s former employees were opening 2 million fake accounts – a point also made by Warren during her questioning of Stumpf.

Sanders then calls out Wells Fargo’s history of “abuse,” citing two recent fines paid by the bank for mortgage-related issues.

“Wells Fargo’s abuse of its customers is not an aberration,” Sanders writes. “In April, the bank reached a $1.2 billion settlement with the Department of Justice for ‘reckless’ and ‘shoddy’ underwriting on thousands of home loans from 2001 to 2008. In 2012, Wells Fargo was fined $175 million to settle claims of discriminatory and predatory subprime lending in black and Hispanic neighborhoods.”

Sanders then calls for the end of the “two-tier justice system,” which protects “Wall Street and the wealthy” and punishes the poor.

“The American people cannot understand how major banks paid more than $200 billion in fines and settlements since 2008, but not one Wall Street executive was prosecuted,” Sanders writes. “That has got to change. ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ cannot just be words engraved on the entrance of the Supreme Court. It must be the standard that applies to all Americans, including the CEO of Wells Fargo and other financial executives.”

Sanders then goes on to call for the breaking up the nation’s biggest banks, a battle cry he ushered throughout his campaign, before finishing with a thinly veiled call for Stumpf to face prosecution as well.

“Wall Street won’t change until we make it clear that no bank is too big to fail and no CEO is too big to jail,” Sanders concludes.

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