So under sterner rules concocted by the FDIC to prevent CEOs and other executives at the nation’s largest banks from committing economy-crippling crimes, a customer-service rep at Wells Fargo, who was making less than $30K per annum, was fired for putting a cardboard dime into a laundromat washing machine—in 1963. He was a teenager at the time.
Richard Eggers doesn’t look like a mastermind of financial crime.
The former farm boy speaks deliberately, can’t remember the last time he got a speeding ticket, and favors suspenders, horn-rimmed glasses and plaid shirts. But the 68-year-old Vietnam veteran is still too risky for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, which fired him on July 12 from his $29,795-a-year job as a customer service representative.
Egger’s crime? Putting a cardboard cutout of a dime in a washing machine in Carlisle on Feb. 2, 1963.
“It was a stupid stunt and I’m not real proud of it, but to fire somebody for something like this after seven good years of employment is a dirty trick when you come right down to it,” said Eggers of Des Moines. “And they’re doing this kind of thing all across the country.”
Big banks have been firing low-level employees like Eggers since the issuance of new federal banking employment guidelines in May 2011 and new mortgage employment guidelines in February.
The tougher standards are meant to weed out executives and mid-level bank employees guilty of transactional crimes, like identity fraud or mortgage fraud, but they are being applied across-the-board thanks to $1-million-a day fines for noncompliance.
Now, is this a case of the federal government’s writing regulations intended to impress the ignorant that it’s patrolling our financial institutions day and night looking for malfeasance, when in fact it has wink-winked at banks by providing incentives to punish the powerless in aid of a farcical “no-tolerance” policy while the big fish are enabled to cut deals and go scot-free?
Critics point out that big banks have insulated top executives from criminal accountability by signing multimillion federal settlements in which they admit no wrongdoing.
On the same day that Eggers was fired, Wells Fargo & Co., the largest U.S. bank by market capitalization, paid $175 million to the U.S. Justice Department to settle allegations it had targeted black and Hispanic homeowners for sub-prime loans.