Seattle City Council votes to sever ties to Wells Fargo

FILE: Protesters hold a sign that reads "Stop the Pipeline, Save the Planet" as they take part in a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SEATTLE — The full Seattle City Council took a final vote and decided unanimously to divest city funds from Wells Fargo Tuesday afternoon.

Siemny Kim is at city hall gathering elements for a report on KIRO 7 News at 5 p.m. Watch on-air or here.

The bank is one of the financial institutions that is financing the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Last week, the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee voted to move forward with an ordinance proposed by council member Kshama Sawant to remove deposits from Wells Fargo and seek a "more socially responsible bank."

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Wells Fargo in downtown Seattle and filled the council chambers to speak against the bank.

Council Bill 118883 says it would strengthen the city's policies for conducting business with partners that are "committed to fair business practices," requests that the city's contract with Wells Fargo not be renewed, and that new investments in Wells Fargo securities would not be made for three years.

If the ordinance receives approval from the full council, the city will put out bids to other banks for the city to do business with.

A committee of the Seattle City Council on Wednesday voted to end its contract with banking giant Wells Fargo over its role as a lender to the Dakota Access pipeline project and other business practices.

The proposal now moves to the full Seattle City Council for consideration. If approved, the measure would direct the city not to renew its contract with Wells Fargo and also require the city take into account a company's business practices and social responsibility factors when awarding city contracts.

Wells Fargo manages more than $3 billion of the city's operating account, including a biweekly payroll of $30 million for about 12,000 employees, The Seattle Times reported.

Hundreds gathered outside the committee hearing urging the city to cut ties with the bank and show support for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other opponents of the proposed 1,200-mile oil pipeline that would carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to an existing pipeline in Illinois.

"Wells Fargo is proud of the support we have diligently and professionally provided the City of Seattle as its operating bank since 1999," said Wells Fargo spokesman David Kennedy said in a statement.

He said the bank is one of 17 involved in financing the pipeline and its loans represent less than 5 percent of the total.

The ordinance is aimed at strengthening policies to ensure the city works with partners that are committed to fair and responsible business practices. The proposal calls out Wells Fargo for its business practices, noting that regulators fined the San Francisco-based bank $185 million for opening more than two million unauthorized accounts.