Seattle Crawls Back To Wells Fargo Because No Other Bank Wants Their Business

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Dakota Access Pipeline protesters chant outside of the Wells Fargo Bank at Westlake Center in January 2017. The city of Seattle has renewed its contract with Wells Fargo, after it could get no other takers for its banking business. (Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times)

Seattle split with Wells Fargo a year ago in protest over the bank’s investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline and fraud scandals. But the two are together again after the city could find no other bank to take its business.

The city of Seattle will keep banking with Wells Fargo & Co. after it could get no other takers to handle the city’s business.

The City Council in February 2017 voted 9-0 to pull its account from Wells Fargo, saying the city needs a bank that reflects its values.

Council members cited the bank’s investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as a roiling customer fraud scandal, as their reasons to sever ties with the bank.

Some council members declared their vote as a move to strike a blow against not only Wells Fargo, but “the billionaire class.”

“Take our government back from the billionaires, back from [President] Trump and from the oil companies,” Council member Kshama Sawant said at the time.

The contract was set to expire Dec. 31, but as finance managers for the city searched for arrangements to handle the city’s banking, it got no takers, said Glen Lee, city finance director. That was even after splitting financial services into different contracts to try to attract a variety of bidders, including smaller banks.

In the end, there were none at all.

It became clear this was our best and only course of action,” Lee said of the city’s decision to stick with Wells Fargo after all.

The first sign that it would be hard to make the council’s wish a reality came soon after the vote when Wells Fargo too-hastily informed the city it could sever its ties immediately with no penalty for breaking the contract. The bank even promised to help the city find a new financial partner.

But it quickly became clear how hard that would be as the city reworked its procurement specifications and searched for months.

Source: By Lynda Mapes | Seattle Times

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