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Author: TriSec    Date: 10/04/2016 09:44:06

Good Morning.

We'll delve into the world of finance today. We're all aware of the recent cratering of the once-vaunted Wells Fargo bank. Among the mountain of scandal and deceit, there's also some soldiers caught up in the mess.

Of course the bank was doing unsavoury things with them as well - to the tune of hundreds of unlawfully repossessed cars - including one from a soldier headed for Afghanistan that started a long chain of investigations.

Wells Fargo & Co., reeling from weeks of pummeling over fraudulent customer accounts, was sanctioned by the Justice Department over improperly repossessing cars owned by members of the military.

Federal authorities are punishing the San Francisco-based lender for as many as 413 alleged violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, according to a statement Thursday from the Justice Department, which said the bank agreed to pay more than $4 million to compensate borrowers involved in unlawful repossessions spread over seven years. The bank’s regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, also fined the company $20 million for a decade of transgressions, the agency said in a statement.

“Wells Fargo Bank unlawfully repossessed hundreds of servicemembers’ cars without the proper process, and the bank will now rightfully pay for its violations,” Bill Baer, the Justice Department’s No. 3 official, said in a statement. The department “is committed to protecting our country’s servicemembers as they continue to fight for our freedom.”

The enforcement actions against the bank follow a $185 million settlement over more than two million unauthorized accounts that may have been opened to meet sales goals. The matter has sparked weeks of sharp criticism, congressional hearings and the forfeit of tens of millions in bonuses for top executives.

Wells Fargo’s stock declined 1.5 percent to close at $44.37 after Bloomberg News reported on the car-seizure sanctions Thursday afternoon -- at the same time that Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf answered questions in a House hearing on the accounts scandal.

Wells Fargo, which doesn’t admit or deny the allegations, is accused of engaging in “a pattern of unlawful repossessions” from 2008 to 2015 in the DOJ settlement, which still needs approval in federal court in Los Angeles. In most cases, firms must obtain court orders before seizing vehicles from soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are delinquent on their loans. The investigation started when the bank took back a Ford Escape from a soldier getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan.

The Justice Department got a complaint that Wells Fargo grabbed the Ford from an Army National Guard soldier in North Carolina, according to court records and the department’s statement. The bank shed the vehicle in an auction before demanding $10,000 in an unpaid balance from the soldier -- a situation that raised a red flag for a military lawyer helping with his debt counseling.

The OCC said the duration and frequency of violations contributed to its action, which also requires the bank to repair deficiencies in its compliance with the servicemembers law.

“In those instances where some servicemembers did not receive the appropriate benefits and protections, we did not live up to our commitment and we apologize,” Catherine Pulley, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo, said in an e-mailed statement. She said the company has been notifying and compensating customers and has “enhanced our efforts to identify eligible service members.”

We'll next check in on our old friends at IAVA. Perhaps you heard about the recent kerfuffle over some statements made by the Vile One. We know he's on record as not liking people who were captured - so now he's apparently lumped in combat veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental issues in that same boat as worthless and weak. Of course it didn't go unanswered.

NEW YORK, NY (October 3, 2016) — In response to multiple media requests, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) released the following statement today:

“Veteran suicide is a serious and rising national public health challenge. PTSD, mental health injuries and suicide must be addressed aggressively, comprehensively and responsibly. Every national leader has a responsibility to use accurate and appropriate language when talking about mental health and suicide especially. The wrong messages on PTSD and suicide can perpetuate stigma and complicate an already complicated problem,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of IAVA. “Terms like ‘killing yourself’ or ‘mental problems’, or any any suggestion that suicide only impacts the weak, can promote contagion and may discourage people from getting help for mental health injuries. Getting help for a mental health injury is not a sign of weakness, it’s a demonstration of strength. We encourage the public and media to use this time as a chance to educate and inform, rather than to attack and divide. IAVA encourages all Americans to use this discussion as an opportunity to add light rather than just heat. IAVA encourages every journalist in America to review and bookmark American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s excellent guide on how to cover suicide and to review our comprehensive recommendations for fighting veteran suicide at www.IAVA.org/Advocacy.”

In the IAVA 7th Annual Member Survey, the majority of respondents who had a mental health injury but were not seeking care said that the reason for not pursuing help was concern that their loved ones would perceive them differently. Nearly 80 percent of respondents who indicated a family member had recommended they seek mental health care sought care as a result.

I'll next dust off my wee little foil hat here. A while ago now, the US brokered a deal with Iran to reduce their nuclear potential. As it turns out, it made our non-Shia allies a little nervous. So instead of talking this through and seeking a diplomatic solution, we've decided to sell them weapons. Sure is nice to create a crisis and then turn a profit, isn't it?

The U.S. government has approved the long-stalled sale of fighter jets by Boeing and Lockheed Martin to Persian Gulf allies in deals valued at as much as $20 billion, according to people familiar with the decision.

The sales to Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait can go ahead unless they are rejected by the U.S. Congress. An “informal notification” sent to the House and Senate foreign affairs committees Wednesday begins an initial review that could last as long as 40 days, according to the officials, who asked not to be identified in advance of a formal announcement that will come later. That notice will trigger an official 30-day review.

Lockheed, which builds its F-16s in west Fort Worth, would be able to sell as many as 19 of its F-16s to Bahrain. The other potential sales include as many as 72 Boeing F-15 jets to Qatar and as many as 32 F/A-18 E/F fighters to Kuwait, according to one of the people.

The aircraft sales will deliver on pledges by President Barack Obama and the Pentagon to bolster the weaponry of Sunni-led nations in the Middle East. Those allies were left angry and uneasy after the U.S. agreed to a deal with their regional rival, Shiite-led Iran, to ease international economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Qatar lodged its proposal in July 2013, and Kuwait made its request in April 2015. Bahrain’s is more recent.

Lockheed spokesman Bill Phelps said in an e-mail that “it would be inappropriate to comment on the details of ongoing government-to-government discussions between the U.S. and Bahrain.”

19 comments (Latest Comment: 10/04/2016 19:25:06 by Raine)
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