Jun 1, 2017 - Berkeley Passes Resolution to Establish Socially Responsible Investment Policies, Begins Process to Divest from Wells Fargo

Berkeley, CA – On May 30th, the Berkeley City Council passed a resolution to establish socially responsible investment policies and to begin the process of divesting from Wells Fargo.

The resolution cites the banks financial backing of the Dakota Access pipeline, investment in private prisons and detention centers as reasons to divest.

According to the resolution,

Wells Fargo Bank has $120 million invested directly in the Dakota Access Pipeline project in North Dakota11. The Dakota Access Pipeline is another egregious example of the U.S. government and corporations violating treaty obligations and tribal sovereignty, allowing hazardous, environmentally destructive activities on tribal lands with irreversible impacts on cultural places, the health and wellbeing of all people, and the environment.”

Below is from the Berkeley City Council

Adopt a Resolution establishing City of Berkeley policies that ensure investments and service contracts are with socially responsible entities. The City Council and the Mayor’s Responsible Banking Task Force will work with the City Manager to develop a comprehensive list of criteria defining socially responsible banking, which will be included in a banking services RFP, to be published by December 2017. The City of Berkeley will extend the current banking services contract with Wells Fargo Bank only through May 2018 and the City Manager will return to Council with semi-annual progress reports on establishing new banking services contracts from institutions that reflect responsible banking policies.

In 2016 it was widely reported that Wells Fargo opened bank and credit card accounts for unsuspecting clients without their knowledge. Wells was placed under a Consent Order finding that it had opened 1,534,280 potentially fraudulent deposit accounts or transferred funds from existing accounts without clients’ knowledge and consent. In addition, Wells Fargo has been engaged in financing the private prison industrial complex and the Dakota Access Pipeline. These practices are of great concern. Since we learned of these practices our banking services contract with Wells Fargo was reduced markedly, at Council request, and we are assured we will terminate as soon as possible. Wells Fargo will have to compete with other banks as we seek new services and our criteria for selection must be clear and consistent with the City’s articulated values. This item emphasizes the need for clear and coherent policies that ensure the City’s investments reside with ethical institutions and those with socially responsible values, and expresses its intent to disengage from Wells Fargo Bank as soon as possible. A request for a report back to Council on disengagement is included.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Berkeley becomes the latest City/Tribe to divest from Wells Fargo due to its funding of the Dakota Access pipeline.

by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)

Last Real Indians