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September 15, 2023

The Double Standard of Justice Lives As Wells Fargo Executive Avoids Prison, Keeps Tens of Millions of Dollars, and the Other Wells Fargo Executives Get Off

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Dennis Kelleher, Co-Founder, President, and CEO, issued the following statement on the sentencing of former Wells Fargo Executive Carrie Tolstedt to six months of home confinement and three years of probation for her lawbreaking:

“Prosecuting just one former Wells Fargo executive, Carrie Tolstedt, is better than nothing, but going after just one executive is literally next to nothing and it will do nothing to deter other lawbreaking executives.  That is especially true because Tolstedt, who received a $125 million exit package in 2016 on top of years of multimillion dollar pay packages, still has tens of millions of dollars in her bank account from years of bonuses based on fraudulent, predatory, and criminal conduct. Sentencing such a corporate executive to six months of home confinement presumably in a mansion cannot seriously be considered a punishment.

“All the involved Wells Fargo executives should have been prosecuted and all their compensation should have been clawed back in addition to being barred from the industry for life, prosecuted and thrown in jail if convicted or allowed to plead guilty as Tolstedt did.  Only leaving executives penniless, out of a job, and behind prison bars will punish them and deter other financial executives.  After all, they do it for the money and, until all their money and more is taken away, they will keep doing it.

“Prosecutors going after just one Wells Fargo executive and letting all the others get away is a miscarriage of justice and only reminds everyone of the indefensible double standard corrupting justice in America: prosecutors let most corporate criminals get away while throwing the book at Main Street Americans, with many serving long prison sentences for very minor offenses.  This is just a continuation of the failed policy so starkly illustrated after the 2008 financial crash when not one banking executive from any major U.S. financial firms faced a single criminal charge for their misconduct in causing that crash, the worst financial crash since 1929.

“By any standard, Wells Fargo’s crime spree was outlandish. For more than 15 years across numerous states and involving hundreds if not thousands of bank employees and officers, Wells Fargo’s business practice if not policy was to knowing break numerous laws by creating millions of fraudulent bank accounts and credit cards for customers without their knowledge. Now, seven years after this lawlessness first became public, one executive is essentially being sent to her room for a few months. This really shows that corporate crime pays and, therefore, no one should be surprised to see so much of it.”


Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies—including many in finance—to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit


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