Group of plaintiffs in Utah, with the help of some US senators, have put the Wells Fargo CEO in a jam

In plain english, he is hosed…

The Nation:

The mega-bank famously issued at least 3.5 million fake accounts without consumer consent, triggering a $185 million fine to state and federal regulators. The bank aimed to demonstrate sales growth to investors and boost the stock price with bogus numbers, but millions of customers got caught up in the exchange, paying unnecessary fees and taking hits to their credit scores. Scores of defrauded customers sued Wells Fargo in a series of class-action lawsuits.

Wells Fargo then tried to defy metaphysical reality: It moved to blockone class-action case in Utah by claiming that the arbitration clause in customer contracts on the real accounts they held at the bank also applied to the fake accounts. By this theory, Wells Fargo customers signed away their legal rights when it came to accounts they didn’t even sign.

The Utah plaintiffs fought Wells’s motion to compel arbitration, and rejected a $142 million settlement offer from the bank. While the two sides tangled in court, Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on October 3. And when Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) asked Sloan point-blank if Wells Fargo was using arbitration clauses from real accounts and applying them to fake accounts, Sloan said, “There were instances [of that] historically. We’re not doing that today.” He also committed to not forcing arbitration in fake-accounts cases moving forward. When Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) brought up the Utah case, where Wells Fargo had made motions to compel arbitration just two weeks earlier, Sloan said he wasn’t familiar with it.

But lawyers in Utah get C-SPAN. The plaintiffs in the case immediately appealed to the judge and argued that, with his remarks before Congress, Sloan had effectively waived Wells Fargo’s right to compel arbitration. Judge Clark Waddoups promptly scheduled a two-day trial for January 22 on the question. He also allowed the plaintiffs to depose Sloan in conjunction with the trial; that deposition is scheduled for Friday.

This put Sloan in a tight spot. Steven Christensen, attorney for the plaintiffs, told me he had only one question for Sloan: Did he state to Congress that Wells Fargo would waive arbitration claims on fake accounts? If Sloan said yes, the Utah case would go forward; if he said no, Christensen would appeal to Congress to hold him in contempt for lying to the Senate Banking Committee.

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Another customer says Bank of America denying her investments

In both cases, it was Rainier Bank bonds that Bank of America says it has no records of the transactions. Rainier Bank was bought up by Seafirst Bank, which was bought by BOA.

Another bank customer has come forward saying she isn’t getting paid for her family’s investments. KING 5 reported on the problem last week after a Seattle man sued Bank of America.

“I saw the bonds in the picture, and I went, ‘Wow,’” said Darlene Wilgus of Camas after she scrolled through Facebook and came across the story about a family unable to redeem their bank bonds.

Read on.

Corporations may dodge billions in U.S. taxes through new loophole: experts

A loophole in the new U.S. tax law could allow multinational corporations like Apple Inc to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes on profits stashed overseas, according to experts.

Stemming from a Republican overhaul of international business taxes, the loophole involves the tax rates – 15.5 percent or 8 percent – that companies must pay on $2.6 trillion in profits they are holding abroad.

By manipulating their foreign cash positions, a determining factor under the new law, a U.S. multinational could potentially save money by shifting profits to the lower rate from the higher one, according to Stephen Shay, a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School.

The savings could amount to more than $4 billion in Apple’s case alone, he said.

Read on.

A little-noticed announcement published in the federal register: Trump Administration waives punishment for convicted banks, including Deutsche Bank — which Trump owes millions

The Trump administration has waived part of the punishment for five megabanks whose affiliates were convicted and fined for manipulating global interest rates. One of the Trump administration waivers was granted to Deutsche Bank — which is owed at least $130 million by President Donald Trump and his business empire, and has also been fined for its role in a Russian money laundering scheme.

The waivers were issued in a little-noticed announcement published in the Federal Register during the Christmas holiday week. They come less than two years after then-candidate Trump promised“I’m not going to let Wall Street get away with murder.”

Under laws designed to protect retirement savings, financial firms whose affiliates have been convicted of violating securities statutes are effectively barred from the lucrative business of managing those savings. However, that punishment can be avoided if the firms manage to secure a special exemption from the U.S. Department of Labor, allowing them to keep their status as “qualified professional asset managers.”

In late 2016, the Obama administration extended temporary one-year waivers to five banks — Citigroup, JPMorgan, Barclays, UBS and Deutsche Bank. Late last month, the Trump administration issued new, longer waivers for those same banks, granting Citigroup, JPMorgan, and Barclays five-year exemptions. UBS and Deutsche Bank received three-year exemptions.

Read on.

Seattle man says Bank of America owes him $125,000

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Goldman Sachs Trying to Kill Initiative Requiring More Lobbying Disclosure

Amid intensifying shareholder pressure on companies to be more transparent about their political spending, Goldman Sachs has moved to prevent its shareholders from voting to force executives to disclose their efforts to influence politicians, according to corporate documents reviewed by International Business Times. The banking behemoth, which has been boosted by taxpayer-financedbailouts and has landed former executives in key government jobs, asked federal regulators to bless its attempt to block the initiative in a letter sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission — an agency now chaired by a former outside attorney for Goldman Sachs whose spouse also worked at the bank.

Goldman’s request to the SEC comes in response to shareholders’ proposed resolution to require the bank to release an annual report documenting the policies governing the company’s lobbying, and disclosing all payments made by the company for direct and indirect lobbying of public officials.

Read on.

BANNED FROM THE BANKING INDUSTRY FOR LIFE, A SCOTT PRUITT FRIEND FINDS A NEW HOME AT THE EPA

THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION Agency has tasked a banker who was banned from the banking industry for life with oversight of the nation’s Superfund program.

In May, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation fined Oklahoma banker Albert Kelly $125,000. According to a consent order, which The Intercept obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the FDIC had “reason to believe that [Kelly] violated a law or regulation, by entering into an agreement pertaining to a loan by the Bank without FDIC approval.”

Two weeks later, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt appointed Kelly to lead an effort to streamline the Superfund program. In July, the FDIC went further, banning Kelly from banking for life. The “order of prohibition from further participation” explained that the FDIC had determined Kelly’s “unfitness to serve as a director, officer, person participating in the conduct of the affairs or as an institution-affiliated party of the Bank, any other insured depository institution.”

But Pruitt, who had received loans from Kelly’s bank, apparently didn’t find Kelly’s unfitness to serve in the financial industry as disqualifying his longtime friend from serving as a top official at the EPA. Since May, Kelly, or Kell as he was known in Oklahoma, has led the effort to streamline the Superfund program — which oversees remediation of some of the country’s most toxic sites.

Read on.