Wells Fargo, the current poster child for corporate crime recidivism, announced that three of its board members would step down at the end of the year, in a nod to the company’s many incidents of customer abuse. But, in an example of what passes for accountability in the modern age, they did not claw back any compensation from those board members. Instead, the departing board members were allowed to take an early retirement. And the replacements are either already on Wells Fargo’s payroll, or come from close corporate partners.
Stephen Sanger, who only took over as chair of the board of directors after the resignation of CEO and chair John Stumpf last year, will step down Jan. 1, along with two colleagues, Cynthia Milligan and Susan Swenson. The trio are among the bank’s longest-serving board members; Milligan joined in 1992, Swenson in 1998, and Sanger in 2003. And all three served during Wells Fargo’s decade-plus practice of instituting fake accounts to goose sales growth, not to mention recent revelations of nickel-and-diming mortgage borrowers, auto loan customers, small business owners, and investors.
The board members will not have to give back annual salary, bonuses or stock options. They just get to move along. Wells Fargo described the changes in a statement as part of their “commitment to refreshment” of the board.
Yet Wells decided to replace Sanger by promoting someone from inside the company. Former Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke will take the chair position. Duke has served on the Wells Fargo board since 2015. During that time, the board was made aware of the fake accounts scandal, before it was revealed to the public.
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