Who’s Behind the Financial Meltdown?

Published — May 6, 2009 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

No. 19 of The Subprime 25: Wachovia Corp.


Total high-interest loans 2005-2007:

At least $17.6 billion.

Federal bailout money received:

None. However, Wells Fargo has received $25 billion from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program

Company overview

  • Status: SOLD. Wachovia was bought by Wells Fargo & Co. on December 31, 2008.
  • History: Wachovia was formed as Wachovia National Bank in 1879 in North Carolina with $100,000 of capital. The bank grew steadily over the years and helped make Charlotte the banking capital of the South. In 2001, Wachovia merged with First Union Corp. and First Union changed its name to Wachovia. In October of 2006, Wachovia paid $24 billion for Oakland, Calif.-based Golden West Financial, owner of World Savings, the nation’s second-largest savings and loan. World Savings’ “Pick-a-Pay” loans allowed borrowers to make very low payments that did not cover the minimum interest owed. Such loans were widely blamed for losses that sunk Wachovia, a claim that is disputed by World Savings bank founder Herb Sandler. Federal mortgage data analyzed by the Center shows that Wachovia originated the vast majority of its high-priced loans after it had taken possession of the California thrift.
  • Parent/subsidiary companies: Wachovia is now owned by Wells Fargo & Co.
  • CEO: CEO: G. Kennedy “Ken” Thompson (2000 to June 2008).
    • Most recent salary: 2006, $1,090,000; total compensation, $23,846,282.
  • Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Year founded: 1879.

Lobbying overview

  • Lobbying: Wachovia reported $5,971,000 in lobbying expenditures. **
  • Total Contributions: At least $6,108,867.
  • Top Recipients:
    1. Senator John McCain, R-Arizona $280,421
    2. Republican National Committee $268,510
    3. Barack Obama $267,888
    4. Erskine Bowles, D-North Carolina $241,800
    5. George W. Bush $227,260

** Lobbying totals calculated by the Center for Public Integrity using data from the Senate Office of Public Records.

* Contribution grand total includes employee and soft money contributions from the lender and its subsidiaries. Top recipient totals include employee and political action committee contributions. Data provided by CQ Money Line, analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

Read more in Inequality, Opportunity and Poverty

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