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Promoted as a “10-Point Environmental Commitment,” Wells Fargo’s press release had no policy to back it up, offered no implementation details and fell far short of industry best practices recently set by Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. In stark contrast to policy announcements made by fellow CEOs, Wells Fargo chief executive Richard M. Kovacevich was notably AWOL from the statement leaving stakeholders feeling deserted by his lack of leadership on a range of urgent environmental and social issues.
Wells Fargo’s “environmental commitment” made no mention of global warming, ecological no-go zones or indigenous rights, and its adoption of the Equator Principles is viewed by the activist community as inherently meaningless since project finance is a negligible aspect of its business. Unlike JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo made no commitment to extend its application of the principles to include “all loans, debt and equity underwriting, financial advisories and project-linked derivative transactions.”
In addition to Wells Fargo’s poor performance on the environment, recent investigations have found bank policies and practices tantamount to economic apartheid with profits derived from social injustice and human rights abuses including predatory lending in communities of color in the United States and exploitive remittance fees for American workers sending money to their families in debt-burdened developing nations in the Global South.
Rainforest Action Network currently maintains four business accounts with Wells Fargo and is in the process of researching alternatives.