Wells Fargo Faces New Pressure from Top Democrat over Fake Accounts
The top Democrat on the U.S. House Financial Services Committee wants to interview executives from Wells Fargo over a scandal about fake accounts its employees set up for customers. Last year, the CFPB announced a $100 million fine against Wells Fargo for what the agency called “widespread unlawful sales practices.” The agency said the fine was the largest such penalty it has ever issued.
Rep. Maxine Waters, ranking member of the committee, has asked Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan and other senior executives to submit to questioning about the fake accounts—which the financial institution did for Republicans late last year, she said. “I reiterate my request that Wells Fargo provide Democratic committee staff the same opportunity it provided to Republican committee staff to meet with the aforementioned executives for unrecorded interviews,” Waters said.
The bank offered no immediate comment but said, in a statement to Reuters, that it had “fully cooperated with the House Financial Services Committee’s investigation, including by voluntarily participating in the September 2016 hearing, producing over 140,000 pages of documents, answering more than 50 written and numerous oral questions, and making our most senior leadership available for interviews.” Waters cannot force bank executives to cooperate with her request via subpoena because as a member of the minority party, she would need permission from the committee’s Republican members to do that.
In all, Wells Fargo has paid at least $190 million to regulators to settle claims arising from the scandal. Bank employees opened new checking, savings and credit card accounts, into which they shifted funds from existing accounts without consumers’ knowledge or permission—often racking up fees and other charges. Bank employees opened an estimated 2 million fake accounts, according to Reuters.