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Most banks were victims of 2008 crisis: Kovacevich

Most banks were the victims in the 2008 financial crisis, not perpetrators, Dick Kovacevich, former chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo, told CNBC on Monday.

Instead, there were only 20 banks that caused the crisis, and "they're all gone," he said.

"The 7,000 mainstream banks did not have any serious problems. They didn't do the bad things. They were victims of the crisis that occurred because of the 20 perpetrators," Kovacevich said in an interview on "Closing Bell."

"These people behaved appropriately and they're being punished for the 20 bad guys."

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Kovacevich's comments came on the sixth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which heightened the financial crisis.

Richard Kovacevich in 2007.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Richard Kovacevich in 2007.

The former banking executive said things are better in the industry since then, namely that those 20 banks are either bankrupt, are out of business or have been absorbed by other banks.

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The banking industry is also very strong now, he said.

"We have more capital than we've had in the last 50 years, credit losses are at an all-time low, profits are at an all-time high. Financially the industry is in good shape," Kovacevich noted.

However, he decried the excessive regulation in place and said that is the major cause of the lack of loans these days.

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"These are policies that are inhibiting economic growth, make no sense and are causing banks to be more cautious than they should be," Kovacevich said.

—By CNBC's Michelle Fox