Stephen Colbert added his voice to the growing chorus of public figures openly criticizing the fraudulent practices of Wells Fargo and its senior officials, as spearheaded by Senator Elizabeth Warren, who tore into the bank’s CEO, John Stumpf, at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Sept. 20.
After referring to Wells Fargo as “the only bank with a cowboy theme” on Wednesday night’s episode of The Late Show, Colbert launched into a scathing critique of the bank’s dealings, which resulted in a $185 million fine from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Citing a New York Times article, which reports Wells Fargo employees opened nearly 1.5 million bank accounts and applied for approximately 565,000 credit cards without customer’s prior consent between 2012 and 2014, Colbert noted the scam collectively cost customers nearly $2.4 million in fees, though it upped Wells Fargo’s stock by nearly $30 per share, putting more than $200 million into Stumpf’s pocket.
Colbert took aim at Stumpf, who fired 5,300 low-level employees as the scandal went public. Prior to Warren’s comments at the hearing, Stumpf had not resigned from his position, nor had he returned any of his earnings or fired any senior employees.
“I think I speak for a lot of people when I say: go Stumpf yourself,” Colbert said as his audience applauded. After showing a clip of Warren’s examination of Stumpf, in which he refused to disclose whether he returned even “one nickel” of the money he earned while this scam was going on, which Warren said she’d “take as a ‘No,'” Colbert said: “She will take that as a ‘No,’ and place the ‘No’ in the bag where she put [Stumpf’s] balls.”
As a result of the hearing, Colbert indicated the bank will forego Stumpf’s $2.8 million annual salary during the investigation, and will be receiving $41 million in stock back from the CEO. Additionally, Carrie Tolstedt, a senior executive in charge of the bank’s retail division, forfeited $19 million ahead of leaving the company ahead of her scheduled retirement later this year.
“Poor thing, just to make ends meet she might have to take on some part-time fraud,” Colbert said in reference to Tolstedt, who could still receive $77 million from the bank, while Stumpf might walk away with $200 million in cash. “That’s how you teach white-collar crime does not pay. It’s like when a cop catches a burglar in the act of robbing her house and says, ‘Put down that TV, buddy! Now, here’s $200 million.'”
Watch the full Late Show segment below.