Seattle Proposal To Divest From Wells Fargo Moves Forward

SEATTLE (AP) — A committee of the Seattle City Council on Wednesday voted to end its contract with banking giant Wells Fargo over its role as a lender to the Dakota Access pipeline project and other business practices.

The proposal now moves to the full Seattle City Council for consideration Monday. If approved, the measure would direct the city not to renew its contract with Wells Fargo and also require the city take into account a company’s business practices and social responsibility factors when awarding city contracts.

Wells Fargo manages more than $3 billion of the city’s operating account, including a biweekly payroll of $30 million for about 12,000 employees, The Seattle Times reported.

Hundreds gathered outside the committee hearing urging the city to cut ties with the bank and show support for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other opponents of the proposed 1,200-mile oil pipeline that would carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to an existing pipeline in Illinois.

“Wells Fargo is proud of the support we have diligently and professionally provided the City of Seattle as its operating bank since 1999,” said Wells Fargo spokesman David Kennedy said in a statement.

He said the bank is one of 17 involved in financing the pipeline and its loans represent less than 5 percent of the total.

The ordinance is aimed at strengthening policies to ensure the city works with partners that are committed to fair and responsible business practices. The proposal calls out Wells Fargo for its business practices, noting that regulators fined the San Francisco-based bank $185 million for opening more than two million unauthorized accounts.

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