Warren Calls for Inspectors General at Treasury, FDIC, Fed to Conduct Independent Investigation of Bank Collapses and Regulatory Failures, Report to Congress Within 30 Days
“I am particularly concerned that you avoid any interference by Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who bears direct responsibility for – and has a long record of failure involving – regulatory and supervisory matters involving these two banks,” Warren wrote.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote the Inspectors General at the Department of Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, urging them to immediately open a thorough, independent investigation of the causes of the bank management and regulatory and supervisory problems that resulted in this month’s failure of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank (Signature), and deliver preliminary results to Congress and the public within 30 days.
“The bank’s executives, who took unnecessary risks or failed to hedge against entirely foreseeable threats, must be held accountable for these failures,” wrote Senator Warren. “But this mismanagement was allowed to occur because of a series of failures by lawmakers and regulators. Congress and President Trump weakened the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) and allowed banks like SVB and Signature to evade key rules and regulations. The Federal Reserve under Chair Powell initiated key regulatory rollbacks. And the banks’ supervisors – particularly the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, which oversaw SVB – missed or ignored key signals about their impending failure. These regulatory rollbacks created an environment in which failure was inevitable.”
Earlier this week, Senator Warren called on Fed Chair Powell to recuse himself from an internal probe on Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse. Shortly after, reporting revealed that Biden administration officials pushed to spotlight shortcomings in financial regulation that contributed to SVB’s collapse, but Chair Powell prevented them from doing so.
“It is also critical that your investigation be completely independent and free of influence from the bank executives or regulators that were responsible for action that led to these bank failures,” continued Senator Warren. “I am particularly concerned that you avoid any interference from Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who bears direct responsibility for – and has a long record of failure involving – regulatory and supervisory matters involving these two banks. I have already asked Chair Powell to recuse himself from the Fed’s internal investigation of this matter, but he has not yet responded to this request. This silence is troubling, as are reports that last week, as officials sought to develop a plan responding to SVB’s failure, Chair Powell muzzled regulators from any public mention of the regulatory failures that occurred under his watch. If these reports are true, they would reveal outrageous and inappropriate interventions by Chair Powell.”
Senator Warren called on the inspectors general to provide Congress and the public with a full and unredacted preliminary report on the findings of their investigation, including any recommendations, within 30 days.
Senator Warren is a leading voice on the financial system, advocating for critical regulations to protect consumers, the financial system, and the economy:
- On March 14, 2023, Senator Warren and Representative Katie Porter (D-Calif.) led dozens of Democratic lawmakers to introduce the Secure Viable Banking Act, legislation that would repeal Title IV of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act of 2018 following the collapse of SVB and Signature Bank. In 2018, Senator Warren was outspoken about the dangers of passing the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which reduced critical oversight and capital requirements for large banks.
- On March 14, 2023, Senator Warren sent a letter to ex-SVB CEO Greg Becker, asking for answers about his and SVB lobbyists’ efforts to roll back Dodd-Frank rules prior to the collapse of the bank.
- On March 14, 2023, Senator Warren called on Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell to recuse himself from the Federal Reserve’s announced internal review of its supervision and regulation of SVB.
- On March 13, 2023, Senator Warren published an op-ed in the New York Times calling Congress and federal regulators to strengthen weakened rules to avoid another crisis, intensify bank oversight, reform deposit insurance, and hold SVB executives accountable for any malfeasance or mismanagement that led to its failure.
- On March 10, 2023, Senator Warren released a statement following the collapse of SVB.
- In March 2023, Senators Warren, Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) sent a bipartisan letter to the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, and its U.S. affiliate, Binance.US, asking for answers about the company’s finances, risk management, and regulatory compliance as it faces investigations into potential crimes – including sanctions evasion, money laundering, and unlicensed money transmission.
- In February 2023, at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Senator Warren raised concerns that key parts of the crypto industry are not subject to the same money laundering laws that cover other financial organizations, allowing financial criminals to use crypto to launder billions.
- On December 14, 2022, Senators Warren and Rgr Marshall (R-Kan.) introduced the Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2022, bipartisan legislation that would mitigate the risks that cryptocurrency and other digital assets pose to the United States’s national security by closing loopholes in the existing anti-money laundering and countering of the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework and bring the digital asset ecosystem into greater compliance with the rules that govern the rest of the financial system.
- On December 8, 2022, Senators Warren and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) sent letters to three key banking regulators to raise concerns about the ties between the banking industry and crypto firms.
- On December 6, 2022, Senators Warren, Marshall, and John Kennedy (R-La.) wrote to Silvergate, the bank that reportedly facilitated the transfer of FTX customer funds to Alameda Research, seeking answers about the bank’s role in the loss of billions of dollars in customer funds.
- On November 30, 2022, at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Warren defended FDIC Acting Chair Martin Greunberg from baseless attacks and called on regulators to keep crypto out of the banking system following FTX’s collapse.
- On November 23, 2022, Senators Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent a letter to the Department of Justice requesting personal accountability for former FTX CEO Sam-Bankman Fried and any complicit FTX executives for wrongdoing following the exchange’s collapse.
- On November 22, 2022, Senator Warren published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging federal regulators to use their expansive authorities to crack down on crypto fraud and hold the industry to the same basic standards as other financial activities.
- On November 17, 2022, Senators Warren and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), sent a letter to Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and former CEO of FTX Trading Ltd. (FTX), and John Jay Ray III, the newly appointed CEO of FTX, seeking information on the reported misuse of billions of dollars of customer funds and other disturbing allegations that continue to emerge about the company’s fraudulent and illicit practices.
- On October 25, 2022, Senators Warren and Whitehouse and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) sent a letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, seeking information about the steps each regulator is taking to stop the revolving door between financial regulatory agencies and the cryptocurrency industry.
- In September 2022, Senator Warren sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen calling on the Treasury Department and the Financial Stability Oversight Council to build a strong regulatory framework for the crypto market.
- In March 2022, Senator Warren, Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Jon Tester (D-Mt.) introduced the Digital Asset Sanctions Compliance Enhancement Act to ensure that Vladimir Putin and Russian elites don't use digital assets to undermine the international community’s economic sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
- In March 2022, at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Warren highlighted the various cryptocurrency tools that could make it easier for sanctioned individuals to hide their wealth and lessen the impact of Russian sanctions.
- In March 2022, at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Warren warned that cryptocurrency may allow Russia to dodge sanctions and urged stronger regulation of the crypto market to ensure that countries, drug traffickers, cyber criminals, and tax cheats can’t evade economic pain.
- In March 2022, Senators Warren, Warner, Reed, and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chair of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, asking about the Treasury Department’s plans to enforce sanctions-compliance guidance for the cryptocurrency industry to ensure that economic sanctions remain an effective tool for achieving foreign policy goals.
- In January 2022, Senators Warren and Reed (D-R.I.) sent a letter to Dino Falaschetti – the Trump-appointed Director of the Office of Financial Research (OFR) in the U.S. Department of the Treasury – urging the OFR to use its critical tools to collect data to safeguard the financial system from stability risks.
- In January 2022, at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Warren pressed Fed Chair Jerome Powell on the role of corporate concentration in driving up prices for consumers during his renomination hearing to be Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
- In December 2021, during a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Warren raised concerns over the growing risks presented by stablecoins.
- In September 2021, at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Warren called on regulators to step up to address crypto's regulatory gaps and ensure an inclusive financial system.
- In July 2021, Senator Warren sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urging the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to use its existing authority to address risks posed by the highly volatile cryptocurrency market and lead the financial regulatory agencies in developing a comprehensive and coordinated approach to regulating cryptocurrencies.
- In July 2021, Senator Warren sent a letter to SEC Chair Gary Gensler requesting information about the agency's authority to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges and protect consumers from risks posed by the highly volatile cryptocurrency market.
- In June 2021, chairing a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Economic Policy, Senator Warren delivered remarks on the opportunities and risks that digital currencies present.
- In a June 2021 interview, Senator Warren called the market for crypto the “wild west,” and said digital currency is “not a good way to buy and sell things and not a good investment and an environmental disaster.”
- In May 2021, at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Warren questioned Randal K. Quarles, Vice Chairman for Supervision at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, about his decision to weaken supervision for large foreign banks including Credit Suisse, which suffered the largest losses from the implosion of the hedge fund Archegos.
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