Of course, Wells Fargo’s CEO John Stumpf made himself an easy target.
Nonetheless, by the time it was Elizabeth Warren’s turn to question Stumpf on Tuesday—more than an hour into CEO’s senate grilling, and about a half an hour after the news broke that Brad and Angelina were calling it quits, observers on Twitter were remarking that all the good lines had already been taken, and doubting that the bank-basher from Massachusetts would be able to make headlines.
Warren hit Stumpf with a number of gut punches that left the CEO with nothing left to do than sit there and try not to blink. What’s more, Warren seems to get to the heart of both went went wrong at the giant bank, and why Stumpf and the bank’s reaction to the discovery that it’s employees opened millions of phony accounts without their customers opinions has been so wrong.
Here are Elizabeth Warren’s swings at Wells Fargo’s CEO and his reaction. If there’s a verbal equivalent of waterboarding, Warren achieved it. Stumpf truly looked tortured. Try to look away.
Warren: Since the massive years long scam came to light you have said you are accountable. What have you done to hold yourself accountable? Have you resigned as CEO or Chairman of Wells Fargo? Have you returned one nickel of the millions of dollars that you were paid while this scam was going on. I will take that as a no.
Warren: So you haven’t resigned. You haven’t returned a single nickel of your personal earnings. You haven’t fired a single senior executive. Instead, evidently, your definition of accountable is to push the blame to your low level employees who don’t have the money for a fancy PR firm to defend themselves. It’s gutless leadership.
Warren: Other big banks average three accounts per customer, but you set the target at eight accounts. Every customer at Wells should have eight accounts. And that’s not because you ran the numbers and found that the average customer needed eight banking accounts. It is because, “Eight rhymes with great.” This was your rationale right there in your 2010 annual report.
Warren: This is about accountability. You should resign. You should give back the money you made while this scam was going on and you should be criminally investigated by both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. This just isn’t right.
Warren: [Business as usual] at giant banks like Wells Fargo seems to mean cheat as many customers, investors, and employees as the bank possibly can.