As the Charlotte City Council prepared to vote on a routine insurance contract with Wells Fargo Insurance Services this week, council member LaWana Mayfield blasted the bank for allegedly creating more than 2 million credit cards and bank cards without customer’s knowledge.
Mayfield tried to postpone the vote, saying the city needed to “set an example of who we do business with” and that it shouldn’t reward a company that has “historically had a negative impact on majority-minority communities.”
Mayfield’s criticism of Wells Fargo was a sharp departure from the role usually played by local elected officials, who typically have seen the city’s largest employers as partners. Even during the aftermath of the financial crisis, there was little pushback against Bank of America and Wachovia/Wells Fargo for the role they played.
Other governments have cut ties with Wells Fargo over the scandal, including the states of California, Ohio and Illinois.
Clatsop County is joining 11 other counties in a $50 million lawsuit against a private mortgage registry over recording fees.
The lawsuit alleges that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, or MERS, owes the counties millions of dollars in unpaid fees.
“We think we’re probably missing out on somewhere between $35,000 or $70,000 a year in filing fees,” Clatsop County Manager Cameron Moore said.
Under state law, whenever mortgage debt is bought or sold, the transfer must be recorded in county records. MERS, a private registry created in 1995 by the banking industry, has been serving as the owner of record. The mortgage-industry company has, for years, essentially transferred the beneficial interest of a property to itself, circumventing the typical filing fee owed to the county clerk’s office, Clatsop County Counsel Heather Reynolds told county commissioners last week.
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Wells Fargo & Co. is facing increasing scrutiny over whether it wrongfully fired employees who pushed back on questionable sales practices and sometimes mischaracterized their behavior on their industry records.
The latest salvo came from Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), who in a letter Wednesday to the brokerage industry’s self-regulatory body asked for an expedited review to determine whether any Wells Fargo employees were unfairly dismissed as retribution for speaking out or not cooperating with aggressive cross-selling tactics, according to the letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
“Wells Fargo appears to have terminated employees because they either refused to break the law, or reported unauthorized and abusive activity to their supervisors, the Wells Fargo ethics hotline or human resources, ” said Mr. Casey’s letter, written to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or Finra.
The bank will pay roughly $200 million combined to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department and more than $50 million to the Federal Reserve, the source said.
There will not be any individual prosecution at this time, the source said.
The SEC opened an investigation into JPMorgan in 2013 over the hiring. The Justice Department opened a parallel investigation around the same time.
Investment banks have a long history of employing the children of China’s politically connected. While close ties to top government officials are a boon to any banking franchise across the world, they are especially beneficial in China, where relationships and personal connections play a critical role in business decisions.
The SEC, JPMorgan and the Justice Department all declined to comment.
GOOGLE IS AMONG the many major corporations whose surrogates are getting key roles on Donald Trump’s transition team.
Joshua Wright has been put in charge of transition efforts at the influential Federal Trade Commission after pulling off the rare revolving-door quadruple-play, moving from Google-supported academic work to government – as an FTC commissioner – back to the Google gravy train and now back to the government.
The Intercept has documented how Wright, as a law professor at George Mason University, received Google funding for at least four academic papers, all of which supported Google’s position that it did not violate antitrust laws when it favored its own sites in search engine requests and restricted advertisers from running ads on competitors. George Mason received $762,000 in funding from Google from 2011 to 2013.
Wright then became an FTC commissioner in January 2013, agreeing to recuse himself from Google cases for two years, because of his Google-funded research. He lasted at the FTC until August 2015, returning to George Mason’s law school (now named after Antonin Scalia). But Wright also became an “of counsel” at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Google’s main outside law firm. Wilson Sonsini has represented Google before the FTC.
Wright’s leadership position in the Trump FTC transition flips him back into government work. The FTC has two open seats on its five-member panel, and Chair Edith Ramirez’s term ends in April 2017. So Trump will be able to remake the agency, which has responsibilities over consumer protection and policing anti-competitive business practices, like the employing of monopoly power. Outside of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, no government agency is more responsible for competition policy than the FTC.