Banking

‘Tremendous amount of material’ to examine in Wells Fargo probe, U.S. Attorney says

2017 was a tumultuous year for Wells Fargo

In 2016 Wells Fargo agreed to pay $185 million in penalties to settle allegations that its employees created more than 2 million unauthorized customer accounts to meet aggressive sales goals. Soon after, the Observer and other media outlets report
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In 2016 Wells Fargo agreed to pay $185 million in penalties to settle allegations that its employees created more than 2 million unauthorized customer accounts to meet aggressive sales goals. Soon after, the Observer and other media outlets report

Federal prosecutors continue to investigate sales practices at Wells Fargo, the U.S. Attorney in Charlotte told the Observer on Wednesday, but she offered no further update on where the probe stands.

A year ago next week, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $185 million in penalties to settle allegations that its employees created more than 2 million unauthorized customer accounts to meet aggressive sales goals. Soon after, the Observer and other media outlets reported that the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Charlotte and San Francisco, where the bank has major employment hubs, were also probing the practices.

“There is a tremendous amount of material to sift through,” Jill Westmoreland Rose, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, said in an interview. “With our partners in the Northern District of California, we continue to do that.”

Investigators are looking into actions by the company and individuals, she said.

The bank has apologized for its actions, fired some executives and ended sales goals for branch employees in its efforts to regain customer trust. Spokespersons for Wells Fargo and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California declined to comment.

Federal investigators have issued subpoenas to the bank seeking communications and documents, sources have previously told the Observer. Federal investigators have also interviewed bank examiners. It’s not clear how long the probe could take and whether any charges could result.

The federal investigation is just part of the ongoing fallout for the San Francisco-based bank following the settlement announced Sept. 8, 2016, with federal regulators and the Los Angeles City Attorney. CEO John Stumpf lost his job, Congress held hearings and just recently the bank said Chairman Stephen Sanger will step down at year’s end.

Rick Rothacker: 704-358-5170, @rickrothacker

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