The chief executive of Wells Fargo, John G. Stumpf, will say in testimony Tuesday morning that he is “deeply sorry” for selling customers unauthorized bank accounts and credit cards and that he takes “full responsibility” for the unethical activity, according to a copy of testimony prepared for a Senate Banking Committee hearing.
In his testimony, which was obtained by The New York Times, Stumpf strikes a decidedly contrite tone about the scandal over the fake accounts, which has engulfed Wells Fargo since it reached a $185 million settlement with regulators Sept. 8.
Stumpf has been criticized for publicly attributing the illegal activity to approximately 5,300 employees who were fired as a result of the sham accounts. Former employees say workers felt enormous pressure to bend the rules to meet unrealistic sales goals set at the highest levels of the bank.
At the same time, Stumpf will tell lawmakers that the illegal activity, which also included as many as 565,000 unauthorized credit cards and 1.5 million sham bank accounts, was not part of an “orchestrated effort, or scheme, as some have called it, by the company.”
“We never directed nor wanted our employees, whom we refer to as team members, to provide products and services to customers they did not want or need,” he will say, according to his testimony.
On Tuesday, Stumpf is expected to face questions from the Senate Banking Committee over what the top managers at Wells Fargo knew about the widespread illegal sales activity and what they had done to stop it since it was first made public almost three years ago. Employees were still being fired well into this year for selling questionable accounts.
In his testimony, Stumpf acknowledged that the bank failed to do enough to stop the behavior from continuing. “I want to apologize for not doing more sooner to address the causes of this unacceptable activity.”