May 17, 2023
WATCH: Pressley Blasts SVB CEO for Bank’s Collapse, Demands Accountability
“You failed to address the obvious risks that were repeatedly pointed out to you year after year after year.”
“Yet throughout the last five years, your pay skyrocketed, and you continue to reap the benefits of mismanaging your risk.”
WASHINGTON – Today, in a House Financial Services Committee hearing, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) blasted former Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) CEO Greg Becker for his role in causing SVB’s collapse and demanded accountability. Rep. Pressley specifically underscored Mr. Becker’s mismanagement of risk leading up to the collapse of SVB earlier this year, and demanded Congress claw back his bonuses and investigate him for gross negligence, malpractice, and greed.
A video of her exchange with Mr. Becker can be found here, and a transcript is available below.
Transcript: Pressley Blasts SVB CEO for Bank’s Collapse, Demands Accountability
May 17, 2023
House Financial Services Committee
REP. PRESSLEY: You know, several of my colleagues have characterized your time spent here today as possibly being uncomfortable. I’m really okay with that. Personally, I’m good with your being uncomfortable because my constituents in the Massachusetts Seventh were very uncomfortable when SVB collapsed. They were afraid in the face of uncertainty about the status of their mortgages. Tech companies couldn’t make payroll. Small businesses were unable to receive payments. So they were very uncomfortable. So I’m quite fine with your being uncomfortable today.
True enough, the FDIC acted quickly to make depositors whole. Today’s hearing was still necessary because its tragic, avoidable sequence of events demands accountability. Mr. Becker, in your opening statements today and in your response to questions, it mirrors your testimony before the Senate yesterday. Lots of finger pointing, blaming, passing the buck, blaming social media, contagions, 2018 Republican bill which you lobbied to help pass and even your own employees.
Now, this question might feel a bit like Groundhog’s Day, but here it is. And I want a yes or no answer because I don’t have the patience for filibustering and the American people deserve more than the niceties of a committee hearing.
So yes or no. Do you accept responsibility for the harm and damage caused by your actions across the financial system? And to my constituents in the Massachusetts Seventh? Mr. Becker, yes, or no?
MR. BECKER: Congresswoman, I accept responsibility for the decisions that were made at the time.
REP. PRESSLEY: Yes or no? Do you accept responsibility?
MR. BECKER: I accept responsibility for the decisions that were made at the time with the information that we had at the time we made those decisions.
REP. PRESSLEY: The bank failed on your watch. Period. Between 2018 and 2023, Federal Reserve Central Bank 68 matters requiring attention – MRAs – and matters requiring immediate attention, which highlighted the liquidity and risk management deficiencies of SVB. This is the building upon the questions by my colleague across the aisle. Were you aware of these supervisory notices, yes, or no?
MR. BECKER: Congresswoman, I disagree with the numbers you were –
REP. PRESSLEY: Yes, or no? You’re a very smart man. Yes, or no?
MR. BECKER: I was aware of the 31 regulatory findings.
REP. PRESSLEY: So SVB was definitely aware of these notices, yet you and your executives repeatedly ignored them. You failed to address the obvious risks that were repeatedly pointed out to you year after year after year. You blame social media. You say similar banks experienced the same thing so it’s not your fault for what happened. Ultimately, failure to address risks after 68 supervisory notices is absolutely unacceptable.
Yet throughout the last five years, your pay skyrocketed, and you continue to reap the benefits of mismanaging your risk. Maybe that’s why you’re not as uncomfortable as I think you should be today because you’re sitting on a $1.5 million bonus. Way to fail up. You received over $9.9 million last year in compensation, as well as a $1.5 million bonus in light of your tremendous failure to manage obvious risks. Do you think that you truly earned your salary and your bonus? Yes, or no?
MR. BECKER: Congresswoman, can you clarify the numbers that you’re talking about? The incentives that were set up –
REP. PRESSLEY: Please don’t tell me that you trust the board. That’s a cop out. Yes or no? Do you – Again, way to fail up. I mean, that’s just consistent for so many reasons. But the answer is no.
You have not truly earned your salary or your bonus and that’s why we need accountability. The American people deserve accountability. That includes clawing back bonuses, investigating you for gross negligence, malpractice, and greed. Congress must reverse the dangerous deregulation that you lobbied for and send a strong message to bank CEOs that risky behavior that jeopardizes our financial system will have severe consequences. I yield back.