Comedian John Oliver returned to late-night TV on Sunday night after his most recent hiatus and the host of HBO's Last Week Tonight dove into trending news topics like the recent riots in Charlotte and the Wells Fargo banking scandal, as well the latest developments in the presidential election.
Before Oliver got to the evening's main segment—a scathing look at the disproportionate number of scandals attributed to Donald Trump versus rival Hillary Clinton's own controversies—the late-night TV host tackled the ongoing developments at Wells Fargo in a roughly four-minute segment. The San Francisco-based bank has recently lost billions of dollars in market value, relinquishing its status as the most valuable bank in the world, in the wake of a fraud scandal that saw Wells Fargo fire 5,300 employees for creating roughly 2 million fake accounts in order to hit internal sales targets.
Oliver laid into the bank for opening the fraudulent accounts while leaving customers in the dark. "Hidden fees are bad enough without being hidden inside hidden accounts with hidden PIN numbers made with hidden email addresses—because that’s like a Russian nesting doll where the last doll is giving you the middle finger," Oliver said.
Where did Wells Fargo employees get the idea to take these fraudulent actions? Oliver highlighted the bank's "incentive compensation program," which highly incentivized employees to open as many new accounts as possible.
"All this is a little surprising, given that the bank's CEO, John Stumpf, has talked a big game about decency and integrity," Oliver said before showing a clip from a video interview Stumpf did with Fortune in 2015, in which he said "the DNA of leadership is trust."
Last Week Tonight then turned to Stumpf's recent grilling on Capitol Hill, where the Wells Fargo CEO showed up with a conspicuous bandage on one hand—"which I legally can’t say is the result of carpal tunnel from typing in so many fake email addresses," Oliver joked.
Much like Senator Elizabeth Warren and the Senate Banking Committee did in Washington, D.C., the comedian took Stumpf to task over the fact that the $185 million settlement agreement that Wells Fargo reached with federal regulators looks like a relatively paltry sum compared to the massive amounts of money the bank (and Stumpf himself) made while the fraud was occurring.
Wells Fargo reported $23 billion in profit in 2015, while Fortune recently reported that the departed executive who ran the bank's unit responsible for the fraudulent accounts may have to pay back a portion of her $124.6 million exit package. Meanwhile, Stumpf could end up collecting more than $200 million for himself in severance—made up of cash, Wells Fargo stock, and options—if he is forced out by the scandal.
"The only way that could possibly be okay is if they put that money in 20 million fake accounts of $10 each and never, ever tell him about them," Oliver said of Stumpf's potential payout.