Daily Archives: December 29, 2013

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LA Times investigation of Wells Fargo culture provokes strong reaction

LA Times investigation of Wells Fargo culture provokes strong reaction

Many others reached out after reading the story, including more than 50 former employees, 21 current employees and 19 customers. Here’s a sampling of their reactions.

Former Wells Fargo staffers

I left my position as team lead in the San Antonio call center last July because I too was fed up with the pressure to “perform,” the shadiness of branches, the lack of integrity, and management’s failure for accountability. One time I closed 26 debit cards for a customer who only wanted one. He wanted to know why the branch employees had sent him card after card. As was customary, I blamed it on a system error. Reporting infractions to the executive office was as useless as reporting to branch managers or district managers.They all covered each other up and fabricated excuse after excuse. In my last few months there, I’d go to work with my stomach tied in knots. I began having frequent chest pains, severe anxiety, and my blood pressure skyrocketed.

Mary-Louise Abney, Mico, Texas

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I left Wells Fargo in October 2010 for the same reason and without another job lined up. The places they would send us to get accounts were just insane. One place we were sent was to blood banks, where people would donate blood cells for money — individuals who were struggling for money. I saw a lot of people come and go as they were caught doing unethical things just to meet their numbers. The environment turned from having experienced and knowledgeable bankers to kids straight out of high school.

Raul Antonio Ramirez, Denver

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SFO plots charges over Libor scandal

SFO plots charges over Libor scandal

British authorities are preparing charges against several more bankers and traders in connection with the Libor-rigging scandal, the country’s top fraud investigator has revealed.

David Green, director-general of the Serious Fraud Office, said the agency was in the process of an “enormous” investigation into interest rate manipulation, with about a fifth of its staff now working on the inquiry.

“I am sure there will be more charges against others,” said Mr Green in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph in which he also acknowledged a rift with the US over the handling of the investigation.

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Academics get paid by financial firms to testify against Dodd-Frank regulations. What’s wrong with this picture?

Academics get paid by financial firms to testify against Dodd-Frank regulations. What’s wrong with this picture?

Professor Todd Zywicki is vying to be the toughest critic of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency set up by the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law to monitor predatory lending practices. In research papers and speeches, Zywicki not only routinely slams the CFPB’s attempts to regulate bank overdraft fees and payday lenders; he depicts the agency as a “parochial” bureaucracy that is “guaranteed to run off the rails.” He has also become one of the leading detractors of the CFPB’s primary architect, Elizabeth Warren, questioning her seminal research on medical bankruptcies and slamming her for once claiming Native American heritage to gain “an edge in hiring.”

Zywicki’s withering arguments against financial reform have earned him guest columns in The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Times and on The New York Times’s website. Lobbyists representing the largest consumer finance companies in the country have cited his writings in letters to regulators, and the number of times he has testified before Congress is prominently displayed on his academic website at the George Mason University School of Law.

What isn’t contained in Zywicki’s university profile, CV, byline or congressional testimony is the law professor’s other job: he is a director of the Global Economics Group, a consulting business that boasts in a brochure that its experts have been hired by industry to influence the CFPB and other regulatory agencies. Nor does Zywicki advertise Global’s client list, which includes some of the biggest names in the financial industry, among them Visa, Bank of America and Citigroup. 

Last summer, Zywicki’s firm was retained for $500 an hour on behalf of Morgan Drexen, a debt-relief company accused by the CFPB of deceiving consumers and charging illegal upfront fees. None of these potential conflicts of interest, however, have been disclosed during the course of Zywicki’s anti-CFPB advocacy in the media or in government.