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Wells Fargo Bank was caught opening millions of fake bank and credit card accounts for customers over the past five years. The phantom accounts were a way for the bank to earn extra fees from unwitting customers, as well as artificially inflating its sales figures. Customers were forced to pay these fees, more than 5,000 low level employees were fired yet no executives have been fired or even fined. As a matter of fact, Wells Fargo CEO, John Stumpf, received a $12.5 million bonus in 2015.
People Demanding Action agrees with our partner, CREDO, that the FBI needs to explain how executives have pocketed millions and many have simply walked away. It seems once again that there are definitely two different versions of justice in America. If you're rich, you earn a bonus; if you're poor, you get a jail sentence.
Petition to Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey and Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz:
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FBI Director James Comey recently broke years of precedent by explaining publicly, in minute detail, why the FBI would not charge Sec. Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately for Director Comey and the Department of Justice, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was paying close attention.1
Now, Sen. Warren wants to know why the public has never been told why the Justice Department refused to prosecute the bankers who caused the 2008 financial crash – and we want to help her demand answers.
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission investigated every detail of the crash and made criminal referrals to the Justice Department. The commission found that 14 of the biggest financial institutions had potentially committed securities fraud in the run-up to the crash. The commission also named 9 top executives who should be personally investigated.2
The Justice Department made zero criminal indictments. Not a single firm or individual faced a trial. Only one individual had to pay a fine – a paltry $100,000 – and of the 14 institutions, only five ended up paying any fines, as a result of civil settlements.3
Comey explained his decision in Sec. Clinton's case by declaring "the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest." In a recent letter, Sen. Warren responded by demanding the "same level of transparency" around the Wall Street crash. She separately demanded that the inspector general of the Justice Department mount his own investigation.4
If FBI Director Comey is willing to spend hours publicly detailing the ins and outs of an investigation, surely we should start with the failure to prosecute the bankers who crashed the economy, cost countless Americans their jobs and homes, and stole millions of dollars out of Americans' pockets.
The 10-year statute of limitations on many of these crimes runs out in 2017. We are running out of time to demand accountability. Bringing people to trial would not guarantee a guilty verdict or jail time. It would not bring back the jobs and homes lost. But prosecutions would send a clear message to Wall Street and help prevent the next financial crash. As Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Chair Phil Angelides put it: "If you can steal $1,000 and settle for $20 would you do it again? Probably."5
We can't let that happen. If the FBI and Justice Department are suddenly so willing to be transparent, they should start with telling us why they let Wall Street off the hook.
Stand with Sen. Warren: Tell the FBI Director and Justice Department to explain the failure to prosecute bankers. Click below to sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out,
Murshed Zaheed, Political Director
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