Senate hearings on the Equifax data breach and Wells Fargo scams were photobombed by a woman dressed as the “Get out of Jail Free” Banker Man that appears on the corner of the classic board game Monopoly.
Videos of the Senate Banking Committee’s Equifax hearing Wednesday show the Monopoly character Rich Uncle Pennybags in a top hat, suit, mustache and monocle seated behind Equifax CEO Richard Smith. At one point, Mr. Smith turns around and looks at the Monopoly character, appearing a little uneasy and confused.
Mr. Smith was at the hearing to give his perspective on the Equifax data breach that delivered the credit information of more than 145 million Americans to the hands of unknown hackers. The information included names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers, and in some cases credit card info and other info that could be used for identity theft.
In Tuesday’s hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Smith said he sincerely apologized for the breach. “The company failed to prevent sensitive information from falling into the hands of wrongdoers.” He offered much the same testimony in Wednesday’s Senate hearing.
According to CNBC, the Monopoly man was at the hearing to draw attention to corporate fraud and to protest how banks and other giant companies are using arbitration to get away with corporate wrongdoing. The Senate is currently pushing a bill that would roll back a rule issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in July that would curtail the use of arbitration clauses.
Amanda Werner of Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen was the person who donned the Monopoly man garb and sat behind Mr. Smith with a sack full of big fake money, which she used to dab her forehead occasionally.
Ms. Werner was also at the Senate Banking Committee’s hearing Tuesday on the Wells Fargo scandals in which CEO Timothy J. Sloan testified the bank’s fake account scams and other misconduct that harmed consumers. Both Mr. Smith and Mr. Sloan were handsomely rewarded by their companies with massive bonuses despite the errors and fraud.
“Arbitration is a rigged game,” Werner said in an emailed statement from her office. “Bank lobbyists and their allies in Congress are trying to overturn the CFPB’s rule so they can continue to rip off consumers with impunity.”
At both hearings, Ms. Werner was present in costume to hand out “get out of jail free” cards resembling those from the board game. The large cards had the Equifax and Wells Fargo logos on them along with the message “Forced arbitration lets financial institutions escape accountability for wrongdoing.”
Coalition for Sensible Safeguards
Americans for Financial Reform