Friday, February 23, 2018
Business

After year of broad criticism for opening unauthorized accounts, Wells Fargo keeps apologizing

Wells Fargo Bank, whose exploitations of its customers — including the opening of fake accounts in their names — continues to undermine public confidence in the big financial institution, will get another chance to say it's sorry today.

Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan, who replaced John Stumpf 11 months ago, is expected to testify before the Senate Banking Committee to give an update on the bank's efforts to make things right one year after its shenanigans were brought to light on a large scale.

"The past year has been a time of great disappointment and transition at Wells Fargo because we recognized too late the full scope and seriousness of the problems in our community bank," Sloan states in written testimony submitted in advance to the committee.

"I am deeply sorry for letting down our customers and team members. I apologize for the damage done to all the people who work and bank at this important American institution. When the challenges at Wells Fargo demanded decisive action, the bank's leaders acted too slowly and too incrementally. That was unacceptable."

Wells Fargo is second in bank deposit size in Florida to Bank of America. Combined, the two banks control close to half of the industry's deposits in the state.

Sloan goes on to state that Wells Fargo is "a better bank today than it was a year ago." He is expected to tell the Senate panel that the bank has rehired about 1,800 employees who left over shortcomings with its sales practices.

A more in-depth investigation of account openings by Wells Fargo employees, without the approval or knowledge of customers, going back eight years found a total of 3.5 million unauthorized accounts. Of those, about 190,000 incurred fees and charges.

Sloan states that, as a result, Wells Fargo will provide $2.8 million more in refunds and credits on top of the $3.3 million previously refunded. "Our commitment is to refund all fees and all charges imposed with respect to any accounts and services that proved to be unauthorized," he states.

Regulators last year fined Wells Fargo $185 million for "widespread illegal" sales practices.

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