Groups from Across U.S. Protest Wells Fargo’s Abusive Practices at Bank’s Annual Shareholder Meeting, in Salt Lake City
April 23, 2013– Organizations from California, New York, and North Carolina traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah,to speak out at Wells Fargo’s annual shareholder meeting today and demand accountability by the bank. The groups, which hold shares in Wells Fargo, detailed the harms the bank causes to communities throughout the country through its abusive and discriminatory mortgage lending, foreclosure, and payday lending practices.
Wells Fargo had petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to exclude a resolution presented by two of the groups, but the SEC upheld it against the bank’s formal objections.
“Our shareholder resolution calls for an independent review of Wells Fargo’s mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices,” said Peter Skillern, executive director of Reinvestment Partners, based in Durham, North Carolina.“Wells Fargo should play by the rules and treat borrowers fairly. The legal record and our experience show it has not.”
“Wells Fargo has a long, documented history of abusive lending, mortgage servicing, and foreclosure practices that have devastated families and communities across the country,” said Josh Zinner, co-director of NEDAP,based in New York City.
“Wells Fargo posted $19 billion in profits last year, and record profits last quarter, and received hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout money. Meanwhile, the bank continues to cause harm, particularly to communities of color, and must be held accountable,” Zinner added.
“Wells Fargo would like to be associated with a history of brave stagecoach drivers crossing the Wild West, but today the bank is known for forcing people into foreclosures and catching their customers in a payday lending debt trap,” said Alan Fisher, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition. “For the first time,Wells Fargo moved its shareholder meeting from California, where our coalition is based, to Salt Lake City. We had to go to Utah to speak directly to the bank’s Board of Directors about financial dangers that Wells Fargo presents, as well as potential opportunities for the mega-bank, in its home state of California.”
“Wells Fargo’s predatory Direct Deposit Advance product has cost me close to $3,000 in fees on a $500 loan that I borrowed five years ago. I trusted my bank and found that many others have as well. I never thought my bank would offer me a payday loan,” said Annette Smith, a Wells Fargo customer. “Wells Fargo needs to address this, starting today, and rethink what this product is really doing to its customers.”
One of the groups also hand-delivered to Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf testimonials from New York homeowners harmed by Wells Fargo’s mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices. In one video statement, Ms.D, a Bronx homeowner, said, “Wells Fargo, I hope that your way of doing business changes. We work long hours to keep the homes that we have and we deserve to be treated with respect.”
California Reinvestment Coalition advocates for fair and equal access to banking and other financial services for California’s low–income communities and communities of color. CRC has a membership of close to 300nonprofit organizations and public agencies across the state of California. NEDAP works with community groups in New York City to promote economic justice and to eliminate discriminatory economic practices that harm communities and perpetuate inequality and poverty. Reinvestment Partners advocates for economic justice and opportunity.