Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) read the riot act to Joseph Otting, the Comptroller of the Currency, for not allowing Congress to see his evaluation of the next CEO of Wells Fargo.
In a recent hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Warren questioned Otting about why he was choosing to withhold his agency’s evaluation of the next chief executive for Wells Fargo bank. According to CNN, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) will play a role in how Wells Fargo chooses its next CEO, as agreed to in a settlement the bank reached with federal regulators following multiple scandals at Wells Fargo.
However, Otting, who heads the OCC, told Warren he intends to keep the agency’s evaluation of the new CEO confidential. Warren accused him of preventing Congress from doing its job of providing oversight of government agencies.
“I’d like to know why you want to exercise your prerogative to keep secret the oversight that the OCC has ducked repeatedly,” Warren said.
“Senator Warren, no one has been tougher on Wells Fargo than myself,” Otting responded, prompting an audible scoff from Warren.
“You mean at the OCC? That’s a low bar,” Warren said.
“I would disagree with that. I find it insulting that you would make that comment,” Otting said.
“Good!” Warren responded, cutting him off. “You know, people across this country were scammed and squeezed by Wells Fargo. Their houses were taken away, their cars were stolen, because the bank’s executives were more concerned with making mountains of money than about following the law. And the OCC never uttered a peep about their executives who were leading this.”
Watch the exchange below:
"No one has been tougher on Wells Fargo than myself," Treasury official Joseph Otting says.
"You mean at the OCC? That's a low bar," Sen. Elizabeth Warren responds.
"I would disagree with that. I find that insulting, that you would make that comment."
"Good!" Warren says. pic.twitter.com/KG75fqDAH7
— ABC News (@ABC) May 15, 2019
Warren is right about the recent history of scams at Wells Fargo. In addition to bank errors that resulted in the fraudulent foreclosure of hundreds of homes and the fraudulent repossession of cars of servicemen and women, the bank enrolled thousands of customers into fake accounts without their consent, then proceeded to overdraw those accounts and gouge customers with overdraft fees on accounts they never opened. The bank also got caught not revealing to shareholders that it was under investigation for that scam for roughly six months, which may have caused some shareholders to sell their stock.
In April, Sen. Warren introduced a bill dubbed the Corporate Executive Accountability Act that would make it possible to jail executives of companies that make more than $1 billion in annual revenue when those companies break the law. She paired that with her Ending Too Big to Jail Act, which would enable the government to hand down criminal charges to bank CEOs — like Sloan — whose banks violate the law.
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.