For Immediate Release - May 26, 2021
Contact: Andy Morrison – email@example.com
Racial & Economic Justice Groups Slam Mayor de Blasio’s Vote to Have NYC Resume Banking with Wells Fargo
NYC Council Members join Public Bank NYC coalition members in calling on NYC to divest from Wall Street, and establish a public bank
**Click here for a video of today’s NYC Banking Commission**
NEW YORK, NY — Members of the Public Bank NYC coalition and the NYC Council slammed the NYC Banking Commission’s decision today to approve Wells Fargo’s request to resume holding New York City deposits – potentially billions of dollars. The Banking Commission – composed of the Mayor, Comptroller and Commissioner of Finance, and charged with selecting which banks may hold city deposits – voted today without allowing any input from the public.
New York City cut ties with Wells Fargo in 2017, in the aftermath of the bank’s massive fraudulent accounts scandal. At the time, groups called on the City to divest from Wells Fargo given the bank’s shameful record of racial targeting for predatory loans, funding pipelines, and more.
Ahead of today’s Banking Commission meeting, the Public Bank NYC coalition, along with members of the New York City Council, had urged city officials to reject Wells Fargo’s request and to establish the country’s first municipal public bank. Through public banking, they said, New York City could support permanently-affordable housing, small and worker-owned businesses, green infrastructure, and other equitable development in Black and brown neighborhoods — and divest from Wall Street banks that are actively harming New Yorkers, our economy, and the planet.
Ignoring widespread opposition, the Banking Commission approved the designation of 30 banks, including Wells Fargo, that will be eligible to hold city deposits over the next two years. Comptroller Stringer voted “no” to the designation of Wells Fargo, but his vote was overridden by two “yes” votes from Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner of Finance Sherif Soliman, a mayoral appointee.
“That the NYC Banking Commission even considered placing city deposits in Wells Fargo again underscores how entangled New York City’s finances are with Wall Street—and the extent to which private banks call the shots in our city. We urged the NYC Banking Commission to vote ‘no’ this afternoon, and will continue to press the City to pursue a public option for public money,” said Andy Morrison, Associate Director of New Economy Project.
“The Banking Commission should have rejected Wells Fargo’s request to handle City deposits. Wells Fargo’s actions during the 2008 financial crash should give us all pause. It’s important to note that today’s vote happened at yet another Banking Commission meeting without appropriate public notice or opportunity for public comment. This is unacceptable, and that’s why I will continue to work to pass Intro 2164 in the City Council,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
“These meetings of the NYC Banking Commission offer an opportunity to ensure that our City’s money is used in ways that match our City’s values. We have a chance to be more thoughtful in what we invest in, which is why I have been a strong supporter of establishing a public bank in New York. I will continue to call for a public bank that is eligible to hold municipal deposits, because on top of being fiscally sound, it would serve the public’s interest, not the interest of private shareholders,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy.
“Instead of continuing to rely on big banks that have used predatory tactics to hurt some of those struggling the most during the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City’s Banking Commission must refocus its efforts on establishing financial tools that will actually help New Yorkers, most importantly a public bank that can help us address housing and other dire community needs,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera.
“We wonder why New Yorkers distrust the City to take care of our most vulnerable neighbors. Until we see Wall Street banks that defrauded and ruined lives rewarded with the keys to millions of taxpayer funds. It doesn’t have to be this way. The City must stop using its power to reward profiteers, and instead prepare the way for a Public Bank that is for the people, by the people, and invests in the people,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.
“Even as climate science is telling us the world is burning, Wells Fargo and other Wall Street banks are investing hundreds of billions of dollars in fossil fuel extraction. We need a new system that puts people over profit. A Public Bank for NYC will allow us to get our public money out of banks that fund Big Oil and Gas and put it back into community-led, sustainable energy solutions,” said Tousif Ahsan, NYPIRG’s Civic Engagement Coordinator.
“It is indefensible that the New York City Banking Commission voted to resume banking with Wells Fargo, which has demonstrated a long history of predatory lending, enabling it to hold billions of dollars of our public money. That the Banking Commission has to choose from a narrow list of such for-profit financial institutions reflects the limited options our current system offers. It is also evidence of the urgent need to create a Public Bank that will invest in overdue affordable housing, worker cooperatives, and green energy infrastructure,” said Ben Fuller-Googins, Carroll Garden Association.
“As an organization of homeless and formerly homeless activists, Picture the Homeless opposes the reinstatement of any city dealings with Wells Fargo given its recent history of ripping off some of the least well off consumers. Wells Fargo epitomizes the need for the city to have a public bank to invest in community necessities, including those of extremely low-income New Yorkers who are homeless, have experienced homelessness, or are at risk of becoming homeless,” said Picture the Homeless member Scott Hutchins.