Talk about dancing on somebody’s grave or fiddling while Rome burns.
Americans are sick to death of reading news articles about banking executives who are still receiving huge bonuses after running their businesses into the ground and being bailed-out by taxpayers. That’s why it was nice to finally read an article about boorish, callous behavior by a highly-paid banker that was dealt with swiftly, correctly and without excuse by one of the largest banks in the U.S.
The story was about how now-former Wells Fargo Senior Vice-President Cheronda Guyton drank her own poison, embarrassed her employer and outraged a neighborhood. Ms. Guyton’s profile on LinkedIn as of September 14 self-describes her as being the “Head of Commercial ORE” – commercial foreclosed properties at Wells Fargo. This is how she apparently gained access to the property, which the former owners lost as a result of having invested heavily with Ponzi-king and master swindler Bernard Madoff.
According to a story published in the Los Angeles Times‘ Business Section on September 12, Guyton used her position at Wells Fargo to help herself to the spoils of war – a $12 million Malibu Colony beachfront home. She apparently spent time there with her family this summer, perhaps even lived there, and threw lavish parties, by accounts given by the neighbors.
Before going further, this author acknowledges that she has a business relationship with Wells Fargo’s residential REO division, Premiere Asset Services (PAS) and that she is one of their active REO agents. That said, this author is also aware that Wells Fargo is quick to fire any REO agent they feel has engaged in unethical or questionable conduct in the selling of its properties.
It’s refreshing to read that one of the largest banking institutions in this country has the same rules for its executives as for its line-level employees, vendors and Realtors. Although at least one Realtor interviewed for the L.A. Times article thought it was fine for Wells Fargo to use the foreclosed property as it wanted, he misses the point, which is that perception is important too. The perception in this case is that Wells Fargo, in the guise of its employee Cheronda Guyton, couldn’t care less about people who have lost their homes – let’s dance on their graves, as it were.
For once, this author is happy to report in the California Real Estate Fraud Report that a big bank did the right thing without hesitation: it didn’t make excuses, didn’t cover-up the story and didn’t give Ms. Guyton a promotion and a bonus. She got exactly what she earned for her behavior – a well-deserved termination. Perhaps with some of her free time, she can review her MBA courses at USC for a lesson in ethics.