Should Wells Fargo executives go to jail for fraud? | The Tylt
Should Wells Fargo executives go to jail for fraud?
There's something fundamentally unfair about a world where bankers can defraud people out of millions of dollars with zero personal repercussions, but a black child can go to jail over smoking marijuana. If the government really wants to deter bankers from fraud, they'd put these people in jail. Wealth and influence cannot be a shield for a crime.
Wells Fargo employees secretly issued credit cards without customer consent for years. Customers accrued fees on accounts they didn't even know existed. Wells Fargo later disclosed the scope of the fraud went deeper and longer than it even realized. Making things worse, Wells Fargo took out auto insurance for 570,000 customers without their knowledge. When some customers couldn't make payments, they had their cars repossessed.
Someone needs to go to jail over this.
Experts say the government tends to avoid bringing cases against individuals because they're extremely difficult to pursue and rarely achieve the desired results. The nature of white collar crime makes it so that it's rare any individuals were responsible for the crime. White collar crime is usually conducted in a way that doesn't implicate any single individual. Worse yet, pursuing cases against high powered executives can take years and may never lead to a satisfying resolution.
What the government does instead is force banks to pay fines, make their victims whole, and institute reforms so it can never happen again. It's the best way we have to bring justice quickly and fairly. It's not satisfying, but it works.
But as one former government official who had been involved in money-laundering cases told me in 2012, sometimes building a strong case against individuals can be difficult given how big and complicated banks are, and sometimes, even when there is evidence, that evidence points not to the C-suite suits, but middle-manager types. It may be, he explained, that at the start of an investigation, there’s an appetite among investigators for convictions, but that a few months or a year in, the government realizes that its most favorable bang-for-the-buck outcome is the announcement of a rich-seeming deferred prosecution deal.