For Immediate Release: May 31, 2017
Contact: Alexis Iwanisziw, New Economy Project, 212-680-5100 x201
New York City Council Members and community organizations today sent a strongly-worded letter to the NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Commissioner of Finance Jacques Jiha, urging them to divest the City from Wells Fargo Bank, in which New York City reportedly has hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds on deposit.
The Mayor, Comptroller, and Finance Commissioner constitute the three-member NYC Banking Commission, an otherwise obscure committee that determines in which banks New York will deposit its billions of dollars of public funds. The letter calls on the Banking Commission to follow the City’s own rules, which preclude banks that receive low community reinvestment ratings from holding NYC deposits.
“Just how bad does a bank have to be for New York City to stop doing business with it?,” asked Sarah Ludwig, founder and co-director of New Economy Project. “Wells Fargo fuels climate change through its investments in the Dakota Access pipeline, among many other destructive projects, and directly harms New Yorkers and NYC communities. Wells Fargo helped cause the financial crisis, has a notorious history of racially discriminatory lending, and failed to comply with settlement agreements with government agencies that cracked down on the bank for its predatory practices. Wells Fargo funds private prisons, just got slammed for a humongous consumer fraud scheme, and this spring received an almost unheard-of downgrade on its community reinvestment rating from the national bank regulator. In short, it’s high time that New York City divest from Wells Fargo.”
“The Dakota Access Pipeline, Keystone XL, as well as the Pilgrim Pipeline here in New York State, all violate the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Mother Earth,” said Betty Lyons (Onondaga Nation), President & Executive Director of the American Indian Law Alliance. “Wells Fargo has provided over $3 billion in financing for the companies behind DAPL and five tar sands oil pipeline projects. These projects are destroying the lives of future generations. Mayor de Blasio should not support these type of projects; it is time to pull NYC funds from Wells Fargo. Mother Earth doesn’t need another pipeline, she needs a lifeline,” Lyons said.
“No bank that was in the middle of the greatest economic crisis since the Depression should be a designated bank. Wells Fargo most of all that was a predatory lender and a credit fraudster,” said Bertha Lewis, Executive Director of The Black Institute.
“We shouldn’t finance consumer fraud, foreclosures, abuses of workers, insane executive pay and climate destruction. It’s high time for Wells Fargo to be shown the door by Mayor de Blasio and also Comptroller Stringer,” said Jonathan Westin, Director of New York Communities for Change.
“I wholeheartedly join the call on the New York City Banking Commission to put New Yorkers first and remove Wells Fargo from its list of designated banks,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6). “Wells Fargo’s ‘very poor’ record of making mortgage loans to low-income borrowers in the New York City area should be reason enough for taking this step, along with the fact that Wells Fargo no longer maintains a CRA ‘Satisfactory’ rating. But consider the billions Wells Fargo has invested in the fossil fuel industry since 2013, including $467 million in the Dakota Access Pipeline. Wells Fargo is not the kind of financial partner our city needs. We need to put our money where our mouth is on climate—by moving it away from companies that profit from climate change. The sooner we get New York City’s accounts out of banks that profit from the dirty fuels of the past, the sooner we can begin to repair and safeguard the future of our common home.”
“Wells Fargo’s practices to hurt immigrants, workers, consumers, and communities have distinguished the bank as one of America’s worst corporate actors. That’s why, over the past month, thousands of New Yorkers and Americans across the rest of the country have stood up to them as a Corporate Backer of Hate and why we join the call on the NYC Banking Commission to stop doing business with them,” said Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York.
“The city’s municipal deposits are a public asset and yet are serving private interests by sitting in private banks. Wells Fargo’s track record has exemplified how those unchecked private interests run against the interests of New Yorkers as a whole. To serve the public, our city must immediately divest from institutions that behave like Well Fargo and bring its assets into a public banking system designed by and for the needs and hopes of the people of New York,” said Brendan Martin, Executive Director of The Working World.
“It is time for government officials to refuse to do business with companies that are bad actors,” said Mark Dunlea, President of Green Education and Legal Fund. “Wells Fargo has engaged in massive consumer fraud and discriminatory lending practices that should not be sanctioned by giving it city business. Wells Fargo is also playing a major role in financing fossil fuel companies and the climate crisis. The city should pull all its funds out of bankrolling the climate catastrophe.”
# # #