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Wells Fargo: Too Big to Jail?

Everyone wants the economy to bounce bank, and the President's not wrong to believe that the way to revive things is to boost confidence.

But if mass confidence is what it's gong to take, the people at the bottom of our economic pyramid need hope -- not only that they'll have jobs again and homes to keep - but protection against mortgage crooks - and restitution if they've been scammed.

The city of Baltimore is currently pursuing a suit against Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo stands accused of disproportionately denying minority consumers favorable loans while targeting them for subprime ones with high interest rates, mandatory arbitration clauses and punitive prepayment penalties.

In court papers, Elizabeth Jacobson, who was one of Wells Fargo's top loan officers said, "Wells Fargo mortgages had an emerging markets unit that specifically targeted black churches, because it figured church leaders had a lot of influence and could convince congregants to take out subprime loans."

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According to another bank officer, the bank even used software, "to translate marketing materials into various languages, including something called "African American." Tony Paschal (that second loan officer,) contends that the subprimes had sub-names -- "ghetto loans" -- their recipients "mud people."

This isn't small stuff. It's huge. Wells Fargo has faced similar complaints since the 1990s and Baltimore's just one example. Similar suits have been filed in Texas, Tennessee, and California. And Wells Fargo which denies the charges, is not alone. Joining them are most if not all of the nation's top bailout recipients including Chase Manhattan and Citigroup.

If the president really wants the economy to bounce back, confidence needs to be restored. Well here's a question: Wells Fargo -- which (according to the FCC) gave out nearly $1 million in campaign contributions and spent $3.6 million lobbying federal officials in the same period -- stands accused.

We've all become familiar with banks that are 'too big too fail'. Are some also too big to jail?

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders interviews forward-thinking people about the key questions of our time on The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally syndicated radio and television program also available as a podcast. A contributing writer to The Nation, Flanders is also the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species.  She is the recipient of a 2019 Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism, the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing women’s and girls’ visibility in media and a 2020 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship for her reporting and advocacy for public media. lauraflanders.org

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