Berkeley considers closing their account with Wells Fargo, putting their $350 million elsewhere

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The city of Berkeley has voted to consider removing its $350 million from Wells Fargo, blaming the bank, at least in part, for the nation's financial crisis.

"Wells Fargo Bank [...] was a key part of the subprime lending crisis which led to our overall economic collapse," reads the item before the Council, written by members Darryl Moore and Jesse Arreguin and reported by the San Jose Mercury News.

The council voted last week to study other options, including entrusting the money to "responsible financial institutions" such as a community bank or credit union.

Berkeley's contract with San Francisco-based Wells Fargo expires at the end of this year. Following last Tuesday's vote, the city manager will present a report in May on the feasibility of ending their contract with the bank.

Mayor Tom Bates cautioned during the meeting that Wells Fargo loans a lot of money to Berkeley nonprofits and gives to local charities.

Council member Susan Wengraf said that she hoped the action would make a statement, reports the Mercury News.

"We pass a lot of things here that are just symbolic," Wengraf said. "But this may be the single most significant thing we do as a city. It will send a real message."

Wells Fargo spokesman Ruben Pulido noted that while the bank did accept a $25 billion federal bailout in 2008, it repaid it with interest by the next year.

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