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May 10, 2011
Protestors Arrested at Wells Fargo Meeting
    by Robert Kropp

As the protestors call for a moratorium on foreclosures by the bank, a shareowner proposal calling for an audit of foreclosure practices wins support.

Eight protestors were arrested at the annual general meeting of Wells Fargo in San Francisco last week when they refused to step down from the microphone, where they called on the bank to negotiate with them on a moratorium on foreclosures.

Wells Fargo, which received $43.7 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout funds, has only a 22% mortgage loan modification rate, according to New Bottom Line, a coalition of community, faith-based and labor organizing groups. While over 350,000 Wells Fargo homeowners are eligible for the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), only 77,402 homeowners had received loan modifications as of February, the organization reported.

At the meeting, Wells Fargo Chairman and Chief Executive John Stumpf stated, "A moratorium only puts off the inevitable," and said the company would not agree to a moratorium.

The coalition also requested that Wells Fargo stop financing predatory payday lending companies, contribute to the rebuilding of communities affected by foreclosures, pay its fair share of property and federal taxes, and stop investing in companies that operate immigrant detention centers and private prisons.

Also at the meeting, a shareowner proposal addressing mortgage loan modifications reportedly won 22% of the shareowner vote.

Citing estimates that "as many as 9 million U.S. mortgages that have been or are being foreclosed may face challenges over the validity of legal documents," a shareowner resolution submitted by the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS) requested that the company "conduct an independent review of the Company’s internal controls related to loan modifications, foreclosures and securitizations."

The resolution also stated that the cost of repurchases of mortgages by Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo could exceed $26 billion. Despite the magnitude of the projected losses, Stumpf received compensation totaling $19 million in 2010.

A second shareowner proposal, calling for the separation of the positions of Chairman and Chief Executive, won 30% of the shareowner vote. The proposal, submitted by the
Service Employees International Union (SEIU), stated, "The Chairman should be an independent director to promote robust oversight of senior executives, and to foster accountability of management to the Board."


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