Bank Watch

Wells Fargo boosts estimate for legal losses

In a securities filing Wednesday, the San Francisco lender increased the estimated amount it could lose beyond what it has set aside for legal costs to as much as $1.1 billion as of Dec. 31. That’s up from $950 million three months earlier. The lender did not disclose any new legal cases in the filing on Wednesday.
In a securities filing Wednesday, the San Francisco lender increased the estimated amount it could lose beyond what it has set aside for legal costs to as much as $1.1 billion as of Dec. 31. That’s up from $950 million three months earlier. The lender did not disclose any new legal cases in the filing on Wednesday. mhames@charlotteobserver.com

Wells Fargo has increased its estimate of possible litigation losses beyond its reserves to more than $1 billion as it deals with a variety of ongoing legal issues, according to its annual report Wednesday.

The San Francisco-based lender said the estimated amount it could lose above what it has set aside is $1.1 billion as of Dec. 31, up from $950 million three months earlier.

The figure represents an estimate of possible losses above what the bank has reserved for litigation costs. It reflects an estimate as of the end of the fourth quarter.

Banks disclose their estimated potential legal costs above and beyond reserve levels in quarterly securities filings. A higher estimate signals a bank perceives heightened legal risks. A decrease signals lower risks.

The San Francisco-based lender is involved in various legal proceedings it has previously disclosed. It did not disclose any new legal cases in the filing on Wednesday.

The bank suffered a setback in one of its ongoing cases during the fourth quarter, when it lost an appeal of a ruling ordering it to pay customers $203 million for manipulating debit-card transactions to boost overdraft fees.

In the filing Wednesday, the bank said it is considering its options in that case.

Bank of America also disclosed its latest estimated potential losses beyond reserves in its annual report Wednesday.

The Charlotte-based bank said it could lose as much as $2.7 billion over what it has already set aside for legal issues as of Dec. 31. That’s down from as much as $3.1 billion three months prior. The bank faces various unresolved legal matters that it has previously disclosed. It did not disclose new legal challenges Wednesday.

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