Protesters from Sammamish and the greater Seattle area flooded Sammamish City Hall on Tuesday urging City Council members to divest the city’s money from its banker, Wells Fargo, due to the bank investing in the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Roughly 30 protesters were in attendance, with nine addressing the council over the course of a half hour. While individual protesters spoke, those in the audience held up signs that read “Divest,” “Water is life” and “No DAPL.”
ALAMEDA — The city of Alameda has taken the first steps toward divesting more than $36 million from its accounts at Wells Fargo over the bank’s involvement with the Dakota Access pipeline and the bank’s history of controversial practices.
The City Council voted unanimously early Wednesday morning to immediately refrain from investing in the bank’s securities and told city officials to begin the process of securing a new bank.
Along with the Dakota Access pipeline, the council’s actions are a response to last year’s scandal in which regulators found that the San Francisco-based bank set up accounts for consumers without their knowledge to meet sales goals, which led to $185 million in fines and the firing of at least 5,300 employees.
“If there is bad behavior and we do nothing about it, then we are passively condoning it,” said Vice Mayor Malia Vella, who, along with Councilman Jim Oddie, put the city’s involvement with Wells Fargo on the council’s agenda.
With a ruling Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court revived a long-running whistleblower lawsuit that accused Wachovia’s investment bank of violating accounting rules and skirting internal controls to pursue short-term profits.
The Supreme Court vacated a judgment in August 2016 by the U.S. Appeals Court for the Second Circuit that had affirmed a lower court’s decision to dismiss the case filed by two whistleblowers, including one who had worked in Charlotte.
The high court ordered the appeals court to give the case further consideration in light of a June 2016 Supreme Court ruling that interpreted an aspect of the federal whistleblower law called the U.S. False Claims Act.
“It has obviously breathed new life into our case, which is very important for everyone involved,” said Joel Androphy, a Houston-based attorney representing the plaintiffs. “This has been a very long road.”
Bank doesn’t specify what prompted four managers’ termination
Board may yet release more information, person familiar says
Wells Fargo & Co. fired the head of its consumer credit-card business and three other senior managers as the bank’s board examines how abusive sales practices spread through branches before spiraling into a national scandal last year.
Shelley Freeman, the former Los Angeles regional president who went on to run consumer-credit solutions, was terminated, along with Arizona lead regional president Pam Conboy, former community bank risk chief Claudia Russ Anderson and Matthew Raphaelson, 55, who led community bank strategy and initiatives. The bank announced the moves in a statementTuesday, saying the four won’t get bonuses for 2016 and will forfeit unvested equity awards and outstanding options.
In a show of support to activists protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Santa Monica City Council moved forward with plans to end the City’s banking relationship with Wells Fargo bank.
The City currently has $1 billion in annual transactions with the bank, including deposits and payments, according to spokeswoman Constance Farrell. Santa Monica’s investment portfolio includes $4.6 million in Wells Fargo bonds.
During a midnight discussion and a lengthy public comment period, Mayor Ted Winterer reminded supporters of the divestment that applause is forbidden at City Council meetings, so when five out of seven members voted to move forward with the motion a wave of jazz hands shot up into the air – a vigorous sign of approval from attendees who pushed for the motion into the early morning hours.
“I’ve been to Standing Rock twice. I was on the frontline every time. It made me very angry to see my people treated in such a manner,” said Walter Ruiz, also known as Graywolf. Ruiz was one of 25 activists who spoke to support cutting ties with Wells Fargo. He runs the Chumash Indian Museum in Thousand Oaks.
The board of Wells Fargo & Co plans to oppose a resolution filed by shareholder activists led by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia seeking a review of the root causes of the bank’s unauthorized accounts scandal, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
The draft dated Feb. 10 states the board’s position on the measure, to be included in its forthcoming proxy for this year’s springtime shareholder meeting, is that because the bank has its own investigation and reforms under way, the concerns raised by the proposal are being addressed.
According to the document, “our Board and our Company believe we are already providing through our current and anticipated future disclosures…the information requested by this proposal.”
An ongoing disagreement over the resolution could complicate the bank’s drive to regain shareholder confidence.
“I’ve been vindicated,” Ian Minto quietly told himself.