(In first paragraph, inserts dropped apostrophe after
employees. In third paragraph, changes job to jobs.)
By Amanda Becker
TOLEDO, Ohio Oct 3 Democratic U.S. presidential
candidate Hillary Clinton on Monday vowed to hold Wells Fargo
accountable for "egregious corporate behavior" in a scandal over
employees' opening millions of accounts without customers'
"Really shocking isn't it? One of the nations' biggest banks
bullying thousands of employees into committing fraud against
unsuspecting customers," Clinton told a crowd in Ohio, a crucial
battleground in the Nov. 8 presidential election against
Republican Donald Trump.
In Toledo, an area that has lost manufacturing jobs, Clinton
said she wanted to "send a clear message to every boardroom and
executive suite" that they companies will be held accountable if
they "scam" customers, "exploit" employees and "rip off" tax
"To understand why this is so important, consider the recent
examples we've seen of egregious corporate behavior," she said,
citing Wells Fargo.
Ahead of Clinton's speech, her campaign released a plan to
help consumers to sue corporations in court instead of being
forced to take disputes to private arbitration. Mandatory
arbitration clauses make class action suits difficult or
impossible to bring.
Clinton said the Wells Fargo case shed light on how
such agreements harm consumers.
"We are not going to let companies like Wells Fargo use
these fine print gotchas to escape accountability," Clinton
Consumer advocates say mandatory individual arbitration
makes it prohibitively expensive to take legal action and does
not set a legal precedent to help other affected individuals.
Wells Fargo has come under fire for using arbitration
clauses after it came to light that the bank's employees opened
as many as 2 million checking, savings and credit card accounts
without the customers' permission in order to meet sales quotas.
Wells Fargo reached a $190 million settlement with federal
regulators last month. Its customers have been unable to sue
because their contracts said they would arbitrate disputes
instead of suing Wells Fargo in court.
Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf recently
said he did not expect the bank to waive the clauses. Democratic
lawmakers in Congress, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of
Massachusetts, have called on Wells Fargo to allow customers to
"They are forced into a closed-door arbitration process
without the important protections you get in a court of law,"
Clinton's plan calls on Congress to give agencies such as
the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission
and Department of Labor the authority to restrict arbitration
clauses in consumer, employment and antitrust agreements.
(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Cynthia Osterman)