Tavis Smiley has teminated his business relationship with Wells Fargo over claims that the bank used well-known African-American Public figures to swindle minority borrowers into high-risk subprime homes loans.
The “seminars” were held in over eight cities in predominately black neighborhoods under the pretense of “Wealth Building.” Smiley, who hosts his own PBS show, was one of many speakers who were often featured at the seminars that promoted home ownership.
According to Mary Kane of the Washington Independent website, Smiley and other “hosts” would encourage the attendees to seriously consider buying real estate and making investments in housing properties.
“I cut everything off with Wells Fargo,” he declared. He said the move cost “a lot of money”; he said he did not know how much.
“I was never a spokesman for Wells Fargo,” Smiley said. “I hate payday loans. My role in these seminars was about financial literacy and wealth building.”
In a lawsuit brought against the bank by Illinois attorney General Lisa Madigan, the bank’s “wealth building” seminars were a part of its overall illegal and discriminatory practice of steering black and Hispanic borrowers into riskier and more expensive loans.”
Stay tuned for further details and developments.