CEO of troubled Wells Fargo says bank is stronger


Wells Fargo CEO faced a withering barrage of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans Tuesday when he testified before the House Financial Services Committee.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers pressed Wells Fargo & Co Chief Executive Tim Sloan for proof that the bank has moved past a string of customer abuse scandals at a tense hearing in Congress on Tuesday. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) chairs the committee and headed the hearing. At one point he claimed that "no institution in this country has done more for diverse communities than Wells Fargo" ― quite a claim for a bank that has been separately sued by the cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Miami and Philadelphia for targeting black and brown borrowers with predatory loans. The bank created 3.5 million fake accounts in 190,000 clients' names and charged them exorbitant fees.

Sloan answered in the negative explaining that his bank does not operate the pipeline.

"Uh, I don't know how to answer that question because we weren't", Sloan replied.

Sloan defended Wells in the hearing, saying it has changed since what he called the "unauthorized account problem" in 2016, when the company admitted opening millions of phony customer accounts. "It promises to make sure it doesn't happen again".

At times on Tuesday Sloan expressed remorse over the bank's abuse scandals, noting in particular he felt "terrible" that some servicemen and women had been harmed by faulty products.

Wells Fargo has since deployed more lobbyists in Washington and launched a public relations offensive, but remains in politicians' crosshairs.

Sloan has spent years attempting to fix the bank's image, including making regular visits to Capitol Hill.

"Why does Wells Fargo continue to put companies over people?" In 2012, Wells Fargo paid $175 million to settle allegations from the Justice Department that it had engaged in "systemic discrimination" involving more than 34,000 minority customers.

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"Each time a new scandal breaks, Wells Fargo promises to get to the bottom of it", he said. The assertions "are just wrong", Sloan said.

If lawmakers are unhappy with what they heard, they could pressure the Federal Reserve to maintain restrictions imposed on the bank's growth until governance and risk management improve. Ocasio-Cortez asked at a hearing of the House financial services committee.

The CEOs of Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America Corp are expected to appear before the House panel next month. Waters' office did not confirm the report.

The bank's stock is trading almost flat Tuesday. "Robbing your customer is not an error in business", Lynch said.

He said one exit was finalized and the other was still pending, but he couldn't remember which was which. The firm surveyed USA banking customers in late 2018. In a tweet Monday, Waters said she "will be confronting Wells Fargo" during the hearing.

"It doesn't feel like they've changed much of anything, to be honest", one of the employees, Meggan Halvorson, said in a statement.

The hearing, "Holding Megabanks Accountable: An Examination of Wells Fargo's Pattern of Consumer Abuses", illustrates the ongoing federal scrutiny of Wells Fargo more than two years after the 2016 sales scandal.

"I'm not aware of the leaks associated with the Dakota Access Pipeline that you're describing", Sloan said.