For those not familiar with the Wells Fargo scandal it involved the false opening of over two million accounts for existing Wells Fargo customers. This falsified how well the company was doing on paper and helped Wells Fargo meet aggressive sales goals they had established for their employees. Though over one percent of their employees were fired for malpractice and fraud not a single Wells Fargo employee has been prosecuted. Sure, the company had to pay a large fine. The CEO, Stumpf, went into early retirement and didn't receive a severance package or his bonus. But is this significant enough punishment to discourage this type of behavior in the future? I would say the answer is a definite no. Quite the opposite, if the punishment for malpractice like this is not severe then unethical companies are actually encouraged to calculate the risk Vs. reward and see if doing the wrong thing is worth doing. Similar to how car companies calculate the risk of not calling back a defective vehicle by calculating the potential deaths it may cause, banks could start calculating the potential fine Vs. the extra revenue they'll generate.
This isn't the world I want to live in, but without fair justice taking place in the corporate world this world is becoming closer to a reality each year. Being part of a large corporation is not a license to commit fraud. If these same people committed fraud and were not a part of a large corporation getting fired would be the least of their worries. How is the fraud committed by Wells Fargo any less wrong than credit card fraud? It hurt consumers and had a negative affect on their financial situation. All for the gain of the fraudster, in this case Wells Fargo. Being part of a corporation should not be a get out of jail free card, nobody should be too big to jail.
Photo by: Mike Mozart / CC BY