Seattle’s City Council voted to end all ties to Wells Fargo because of the financial institution’s direct investments with the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
The council will remove $3 billion in city funds from the banking giant. Council members want to turn the bidding process into a race to see which banking institution is committed to “social responsibility.”
“Protests in Seattle against the Dakota Access Pipeline project have been large and frequent, often organized by local tribal members,” according to a Washington NPR affiliate.
Wells Fargo has struggled to recapture the public’s trust after federal regulators accused it of opening millions of bank accounts and issuing hundreds of thousands of credit cards without customer consent. The bank created a slew of fake accounts in customers’ names to boost bonuses.
Wells Fargo’s recent history has made it a large target among those crusading against banks invested in the DAPL, a multi-state oil pipeline opposed by environmentalists and Indian tribes that worry the project could poison Standing Rock Sioux’s water supply.
Citi Group, TD Bank of Canada, among others, are being pressured by anti-fracking activists and members of the Standing Rock to halt any and all monetary backing of the company responsible for constructing the DAPL.
Opposition to DAPL ratcheted up recently after President Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders in January approving the construction of the DAPL and Keystone XL. His order essentially wiped away the Obama administration’s decision last December to reject the oil line.
Seattle council member, Kshama Sawant, a self-identified socialist who spearheaded the move away from Wells Fargo, said a rally against the bank is scheduled for this weekend.
“All of the big banks are terrible, and, as long as we have capitalism, our contracts will be with institutions that put corporate greed over human need,” Sawant said in a statement about the council’s decision.
The City Council has not yet landed on a Wells Faro replacement. More than a dozen other banks are connected to the pipeline, including CitiBank, ING, Chase and Bank of America.
Sawant floated the possibility of contracting with a credit union or state-run public bank to help juggle the city’s pensions and other financial needs, though such options would require a change to state law.
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