If the above video doesn’t load for you, please follow this link and set aside under ten minutes to watch…it will be well worth it.

Senate committee hearings are meant to be an opportunity for high-profile people to be held accountable for their actions when they affect the wider public but as we all know, more often than not they are reduced to mere “love-ins” due to the fact that the bulk of politicians are “bought” thus making their levels of scrutiny extremely low.

When it comes to Wall Street and the American banking industry, you certainly could not accuse Senator Elizabeth Warren of going easy when she performed her duties on the Senate’s Banking Committee.

Should you be based in Ireland you may not know too much about Wells Fargo Bank but they have been in the US news quite a bit recently on account (pun intended) of their recently publicised practice of “cross-selling”.

The senator from Massachusetts in her extremely direct and properly forceful questioning of CEO Bill Stumpf (who couldn’t look more like a classic bank head honcho if he tried)  not only ignores all the media spin churned out by the company of late but it also leaves you in no doubt as to exactly what has been going on.

“Here’s what really gets me about this, Mr. Stumpf. If one of your tellers took a handful of $20 bills out of the crash drawer, they’d probably be looking at criminal charges for theft. They could end up in prison.

“But you squeezed your employees to the breaking point so they would cheat customers and you could drive up the value of your stock and put hundreds of millions of dollars in your own pocket.

Now I know these committees don’t have a whole lot of legal “teeth”.  I know that Mr Stumpf will continue to draw his massive salaries and bonuses.  And I know the establishment will redouble their efforts to silence Elizabeth Warren by fair means or foul, probably the latter (by finding ways to discredit her name most likely).

But there is a lot to be said for public representatives asking such people the real, sensible questions – that’s supposedly what we elect them to do.

Do you think it may be possible an Irish bank or two deserves a similar public grilling?

 

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