Weeks after a watchdog group slammed the banking giant Wells Fargo for its financial ties to the private prison industry, that same group is praising the bank for backing off of some of those investments.
Citing information from the Securities Exchange Commission, The Public Accountability Initiative (PAI), a non-partisan corporate watchdog group said Wells Fargo divested nearly 75 percent of its holdings in the GEO Group, the nation’s second largest private prison company.
The PAI also published a second report detailing Wells Fargo’s targeting of the Latino community as a customer base, while simultaneously funding prison company’s whose populations are disproportionally filled with minority groups like Latinos.
In both reports, the group again blasted Wells Fargo for providing funding to the companies that “lobby aggressively for immigration policies that result in higher levels of detention.”
Meanwhile, the PAI asserts that Wells Fargo has a focused marketing strategy to position itself as a “bank of choice for the Latino community.”
At the time PAI’s first report was released, a spokesman for Wells Fargo said the bank does not make or enforce U.S. immigration policies.
“To believe that protesting against our bank will somehow change U.S. government policy is misguided, unfortunate and unrealistic,” Alan Elias, a spokesman for Wells Fargo, told Progress Illinois via email.
Kevin Connor, director of PAI and author of the report, countered by saying that the bank still had strong ties to three of the country’s top prison operators.
Having since dropped that large chunk of those investments, Wells Fargo got some kudos from the organization. But the group said that’s only the first step and is now calling on the bank to “divest the rest.”