The good news, if you're the CEO of Wells Fargo, is that you're really, really rich — even though your bank has been found responsible for a shameful scheme back in 2008 to boost profits. The bad news is you have to face a public tongue-lashing from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
"Mr. Stumpf, the Wells Fargo vision and values statement, which you frequently cite, says 'We believe in values lived, not phrases memorized,'" Sen. Warren recited at the Senate Banking Committee hearing yesterday. "'If you want to find out how strong a company's ethics are, don't listen to what its people say. Watch what they do.' So, let's do that."
Sen. Warren and the rest of the committee grilled John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo, mercilessly about his leadership at the bank. A scheme of overly aggressive sales targets pressured low-wage workers to create 2 million bogus accounts, hitting customers with fees and damaging their credit ratings.
Here are some of the most heated exchanges from the hearing:
"This is about accountability," said Sen. Warren. "You should resign. You should give back the money that you took while this scam was going on and you should be criminally investigated by both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. This just isn't right. A cashier who steals a handful of twenties is held accountable but Wall Street executives who almost never hold themselves accountable, not now and not in 2008 when they crushed the worldwide economy."
"How do you explain this to your own shareholders?" asked Sen. Warren. Stumpf replied, "There is a process that the board goes through and they will do that, they've already met, and we'll give that --" "I don't understand, you keep saying, 'The board, the board,' as if these are strangers that you met in a dark alley. Under the bylaws of Wells Fargo, and I'm quoting here, 'The chairman shall preside at all meetings of the board.' You were able to make changes, why can you not make a change here?"
"I'm going to have the board do their process," said Stumpf. Warren then asked, "You are going to have no recommendation at all? Ever? At any point in this process?" "Whatever the board accepts, whatever they do, I will accept and I will support." "You are not passive here. If you have nothing to do then what are you doing serving as chairman of the board? If you have no opinions on the most massive fraud that has hit this bank since the beginning of time, how can it be that you actually get to continue to collect a paycheck for being chairman of the board?"
This segment aired on September 21, 2016.