Earlier today a group of US Senators called upon CEO John Stumpf to testify before congress about Wells Fargo's fraudulent creation of millions of customer accounts.

As is typical in such cases, the company's managers are blaming the employees (5,300 of whom they have fired) while holding themselves, the managers, entirely blameless.

Rather than 'fessing up and resigning, Wells Fargo's management is spinning the situation as evidence that they're customer-focused. From their public statement:

"Our entire culture is centered on doing what is right for our customers. However, at Wells Fargo, when we make mistakes, we are open about it, we take responsibility, and we take action. Today's agreements are consistent with these beliefs."

In other words, this was all part of Wells Fargo's master plan, like so:

Wells Fargo is all "hey, we fired the 5,300 bad apples... can change the subject now?" But let's be honest. Anyone who knows corporate politics knows Stumpf was probably aware of what was happening and took a calculated risk they'd get away with it.

And why should he think otherwise? The financial sector has repeatedly proven over the past ten years that big banks and their CEOs can defraud the public and even destroy the economy and not be held accountable.

But just for the sake of argument let's assume that Stumpf didn't know that their sales model was resulting the massive defrauding of the bank's customers. If so, he's clueless about business.

Aggressive hard-sell tactics with escalating quotas and penalties for failure is a recipe for fraud because the sales process isn't sustainable without it.

Again, for the sake of argument, let's assume that Stumpf didn't actually know about the sales tactics. In that case, he's was asleep at the wheel because those sales tactics drove the profits of the company's consumer banking division.

So it's a binary situation. Either Stumpf created, encouraged and profited from fraud, or he's an empty suit who is clueless and incompetent.

Which brings us back to the Senate committee. If Stumpf does testify, here's the line of questioning that the Senators should use:

  • Senator: So you claim that you didn't know this was happening?
  • Stumpf: Correct.
  • Senator: Well, if you didn't know then you're completely incompetent, right?
  • Stumpf: What?!?
  • Senator: It's got to be one or the other. Are you a criminal or an idiot?
  • Stumpf (under his breath): An idiot.
  • Senator: I can't hearrrrr youuuu...
  • Stumpf (louder): An idiot.
  • Senator (to colleagues): Let the record show that Well Fargo CEO John Stupmf admits he's an idiot.

Yeah, I know it will never happen, but wouldn't it be great if it did? Especially considering that the too-big-to-fail banks are one reason that the US has become hostile to entrepreneurs.

Since we'll never see Stumpf or any other big finance CEOs thrown into jail, I figure the least we deserve is to see some of them humiliated in public, since their alibi hinges on their own stupidity.