Why BNY Mellon Matters

BNY Mellon Center; a show of their influence in Pittsburgh

BNY Mellon, banker to billionaires and our largest corporations, has been quietly doing business in Pittsburgh for generations. But last year, BNY was dragged into the limelight when they became a target – and campsite — of Occupy Pittsburgh.

As the bank moved to evict the occupiers from the park adjacent to its downtown headquarters (a park, incidentally, that was subsidized with taxpayer funds), the 99 percent began challenging the public to ask whether BNY Mellon shouldn’t be evicted instead.

There’s a good case to be made. In the first place, BNY isn’t always a good investment bank, In fact for the 99 per cent, it could be a very bad bank.

BNY Mellon is currently facing several lawsuits for allegedly defrauding investors, engaging in practices that have caused people to lose substantial portions of their pension plans.In one such case, the bank  is being tried for failing to review documents pertaining to the loans that made up its securities.

Because of missing or irregular documents created uncertainty over the securities, billions of dollars of damage were caused to pension funds such as the City of Grand Rapids General Retirement System and the Retirement Board of the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of the City of Chicago.

In another case BNY Mellon is being sued by a Los Angeles pension fund for overcharging for foreign exchange transactions.  Allegedly, BNY Mellon promised to use “best practices” to make sure the client got the best prices, but then went on to use worse prices to secretly profit from the difference.

As the result of a similar lawsuit in Ohio, the state decided to drop BNY Mellon as the custodian of several public pension funds.
Beyond being a not-so-good bank, BNY Mellon is a pretty bad neighbor.

BNY Mellon avoids paying taxes in PA by using the Delaware Loophole.  While our schools and transit lose funding in round after round of budget cuts, BNY Mellon, who employs more than 7 thousand Pennsylvanians in offices around the state, games the system by declaring itself a Delaware corporation.

Finally, BNY Mellon also pays exorbitant salaries to it’s 1% executives.  The bank’s top 5 executives made nearly $50 Million, led by the $12.35 Million CEO Gerald Hassell made.  Despite being able to pay it’s executives handsomely, in 2011 the bank announced it would slash 1,500 jobs to reduce operating costs.

Because BNY Mellon epitomizes so succinctly what is wrong with our economy, we must show that we cannot stand for their practices. In an economy this critical a bank that cuts jobs, filters money to the rich, and seeks to make money by unscrupulously putting their own investors at risk cannot be tolerated.

On April 10th One Pittsburgh will protest BNY Mellon at their stockholder meeting at the Omni William Penn Hotel, but that is only the start.  We ask that going forward anybody concerned about a fair economy stand with us in staying vigilant against BNY Mellon and other offenders.

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