Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), who is also running for president in 2020, continues to introduce ambitious policy proposals. Her latest: Jailing corporate CEOs.
On Wednesday, Elizabeth Warren introduced her “Corporate Executive Accountability Act,” which would make it possible for CEOs of companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue to be held criminally liable if their companies break laws, or if executives themselves violate consumer safety or security. She also re-introduced her “Ending Too Big to Jail Act,” which would establish standards by which CEOs of big banks could be given criminal charges if the banks they lead violate federal law.
“Corporations don’t make decisions, people do, but for far too long, CEOs of giant corporations that break the law have been able to walk away, while consumers who are harmed are left picking up the pieces,” Elizabeth Warren said in a statement posted to her Senate website. “These two bills would force executives to responsibly manage their companies, knowing that if they cheat their customers or crash the economy, they could go to jail.”
While the proposal may sound harsh, it’s actually fairly lenient for first-time offenders. Under the Corporate Executive Accountability Act, CEOs would face a simple fine and/or a year in prison for the first offense — the real penalty doesn’t hit until the second time around, when CEOs could face up to three years in prison for each subsequent offense.
The legislation comes right on the heels of former Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan resigning amid multiple scandals, including (but not limited to) foreclosing on the homes of hundreds of customers due to a computer glitch, illegally repossessing military members’ vehicles, and failing to disclose to investors that the federal government was investigating them for their fake account scandal for six months prior to that knowledge becoming publicly known.
After Sloan’s resignation, Elizabeth Warren tweeted that the former Wells Fargo boss “should have been fired a long time ago,” and called for him to be held criminally accountable for crimes the bank committed on his watch.
“[Sloan] enabled Wells Fargo’s massive fake accounts scam, got rich off it, & then helped cover it up. Now—let’s make sure all the people hurt by Wells Fargo’s scams get the relief they’re owed,” she tweeted. “He shouldn’t get a golden parachute. He should be investigated by the SEC and the DOJ for his role in all the Wells Fargo scams. And if he’s guilty of any crimes, he should be put in jail like anyone else.”
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.