- Justin Sullivan
Hillary Clinton is taking on Wells Fargo again.
In a speech on Monday in Toledo, Ohio, Clinton attacked the bank and used its recent accounts scandal as an example of “egregious corporate behavior.”
“Look at Wells Fargo, really shocking isn’t it?” Clinton said.
“One of the nation’s biggest banks bullying thousands of employees into committing fraud against unsuspecting customers. Secretly opening up millions of accounts without their consent, even their knowledge, misusing personal information, and then sticking customers with hidden fees.”
Clinton also struck at Wall Street in general, saying that nothing has changed since the financial crisis.
“It is outrageous that eight years after a cowboy culture on Wall Street wrecked our economy that we are still seeing powerful banker playing fast and loose with the law,” said the nominee.
The Democratic presidential nominee also introduced a proposal in a speech on Monday that would open up corporations to being sued by customers who are wronged instead of ending in arbitration.
Wells Fargo has been rocked by a scandal in recent weeks when it settled with regulators after employees of the bank opened 2 million accounts without the knowledge of customers. The accounts could have a lasting effect on their credit and other financial health.
Because of a clause in the agreement between Wells Fargo and its customers, anyone who had an account opened without their knowledge and wants to pursue legal action must enter into arbitration with the bank instead of suing. Arbitration is overseen by a mediator instead of a jury, and any settlement is private.
Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf repeatedly said in testimonies to both the House Financial Services Committee and Senate banking committee that the bank will continue with the forced arbitration instead of allowing customers to go to court.
The Clinton campaign said in a statement previewing the speech the proposal will focus on “curbing the prevalence of fine-print ‘forced arbitration’ clauses in contracts that prevent workers and consumers (including Wells Fargo customers) from bringing legal action against companies who have harmed them.”
According to a plan released by Clinton on Monday, the campaign said that arbitration is unfair to average consumers.
“Arbitration can be a useful tool, for example, when sophisticated companies mutually agree to use arbitration to settle their disputes,” said the plan. “But for consumers and employees given no choice but to sign, such clauses too often tilt the playing field toward the corporations that include them in the fine print of contracts-while offering consumers and employees no way out.”
Essentially, Clinton is arguing that forced arbitration closes the door to possible appeals by a wronged customer and does not allow them to get access to a full jury trial.
Clinton wrote an open letter to Wells Fargo customers last month, condemning the bank and calling out the corporate culture of Wall Street.
“Even after Americans spent years working hard to recover from the Great Recession, the culture of misconduct and recklessness that preceded that crisis too often persists,” the letter said.
Clinton will also go after Mylan Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the EpiPen, which has faced criticism for increasing the cost of the drug, which treats severe allergic reactions. The campaign statement said Clinton will propose to “promote competition, address excessive market concentration and the abuse of economic power, and reinvigorate antitrust laws and enforcement.”