Warren Buffet, the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, had some harsh words when it comes to banking CEOs who preside over banks that end up requiring government help, CNBC reports. The influential billionaire, who is considered something of an investment oracle by many, contended that if a bank requires a government bailout, its CEO should quite literally lose everything he or she has as part of the deal.
The remarks were made at Berkshire’s shareholders meeting at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
“If a bank gets to where it needs government assistance, the responsible CEO should lose his net worth and his spouse’s net worth,” Buffett said, adding that when such a situation arises, “it’s the shareholders who pay.”
The crowd in attendance cheered loudly in response to the sentiment.
Buffett’s remarks came in response to an audience question about a scandal at Wells Fargo, of which Berkshire is one of the largest shareholders. The scandal, in which the bank was discovered creating fake customer accounts, broke in 2016 and ultimately led to the dismissal of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf as well as a number of other executives at the company. Shares of Wells Fargo have suffered as a result, falling by about 3 percent during a time period in which the market as a whole gained 50 percent.
“It looks to me like Wells made some big mistakes,” Buffett said.
“They incentivized the wrong behavior. I’ve seen that in a lot of places. When you find a problem, you have to do something about it.”
Also at Berkshire’s annual meeting, which is known colloquially as “Woodstock for Capitalism,” Buffett addressed an emerging anti-capitalist sentiment in the country, as Yahoo! Finance details.
Describing himself as a “card-carrying capitalist,” Buffett told shareholders that the free market system, supported by the rule of law, is something embodied in America and that he would not soon change his thinking on that matter. His comments came as many have pointed out that Buffett has recently seemed sympathetic to a number of progressive causes, such as addressing massive income inequality and lowering health care costs. He also publicly backed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.
Nonetheless, Buffett made it clear that he remains firmly on team capitalism.
“I don’t think the country will go into socialism in 2020 or 2040 or 2060,” he said.
With an estimated net worth of more than $80 billion, Buffett is frequently cited as one of the wealthiest men in the world.