MATT TAIBBI: Wells Fargo’s Master Spin Job
All over the country, Wells Fargo is making headlines for launching a multimillion-dollar homeowner assistance program called HomeLIFT, which among other things offers $15,000 down payment grants to prospective home-buyers.
Local mayors in big cities from one end of the country to the other are showing up at ribbon-cuttings and throwing rose petals at the bank for its generosity. Newspapers in turn are running breathless profiles of the low-income homeowners who will now get to buy dream homes thanks to the bank’s beneficence.
Some knew, some didn’t, but all are leaving out one key detail: Wells Fargo was forced to launch HomeLIFT.
To understand the background, we have to go back to July 25th of last year, when a federal judge in the Northern District of California approved a settlement in a case called City of Westland Police and Fire Retirement System v. Stumpf. The suit was brought on behalf of shareholders by Robbins Geller, the same firm featured in a story I wrote two years ago about the ratings agencies.