Financial moguls skate when caught defrauding clients

Published 12:06 pm Friday, September 15, 2017

While disaster experts in Texas and Florida tally the cost of rebuilding and replacing after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the tally for damage from the seismic data breach at Equifax will be more difficult to assess.

The theft of the vital personal financial information of almost every adult in the U.S. makes earlier data breaches pale in comparison, but Equifax’s response has not risen to the severity of the theft.

Sincerely and profoundly sorry for the inconvenience, yadayadayada. And by the way, the Equifax corporate moguls who dumped the company’s stock after the breach but before it was announced and the stock price took a nose dive, they knew nothing about it.

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However, public outcry is rising to the magnitude of Equifax’s carelessness. Twenty-something class action lawsuits are proposed, the Senate is investigating as are states’ attorneys general. That’s as it should be. For too long since the recession of 2008, the corporate heads of huge banks and financial entities have been exempted from having to satisfactorily answer for greed-driven policies that have robbed middle class America.

The usual chain of events following banking and financial entity missteps are sincere and profound apologies followed by resignations or terminations of corporate higher-ups with severance parachutes equal to what most of us make in a lifetime, fines in amounts that would be insurmountable for smaller-downs but represent only a drop in the bucket for monied behemoths. And when it’s all over, they are required to admit to no wrong-doing.

Wells Fargo Bank is the most egregious example to date. Bankers there admitted to opening credit card accounts for millions of unknowing customers, adding unwanted auto insurance to car loans, not telling mortgage customers about fees they were being charged for services they didn’t receive, on and on ad nauseam, and then firing employees who questioned their practices.

Then-Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf was grilled by Congress this time last year. Afterward he resigned or retired — whatever — with one of those golden parachutes. Wells Fargo paid millions in fines but still only a drop for a $1.6 trillion bank.

Somebody should go to jail.