Wells Fargo fires 4 executives amid probe into account scandal

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By Dan Freed

<span class="articleLocation”>Wells Fargo & Co has fired four
mid-level executives and stripped them of bonuses and stock
awards as a result of an investigation into improper sales
practices in its retail bank, the company announced on Tuesday.

The board of directors voted unanimously to fire them for
cause as part of its investigation into employees opening as
many as 2 million deposit and credit card accounts without
customers’ permission.

Since the scandal and paying a $185 million fine to the U.S.
government, the third-largest U.S. bank by deposits has been
trying to show it is holding management accountable. The scandal
led to the departure of former Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer John Stumpf last October, who along with another
executive forfeited tens of millions of dollars in compensation.

The most recent firings include Claudia Russ Anderson,
former chief risk officer for the Wells Fargo branch banking
unit where the sales problems occurred. She took a personal
leave from the bank in September, bank spokeswoman Mary Eshet
said. Anderson could not be reached for comment.

The others fired by the bank were Pamela Conboy, Arizona
lead regional president; Shelley Freeman, former Los Angeles
regional president and now head of consumer credit solutions;
and Matthew Raphaelson, head of community bank strategy and
initiatives. None of them could be reached for comment.

The four executives will not get bonuses for 2016 and will
forfeit unvested equity awards and vested outstanding options.
The scandal also led to the firing of thousands of low-level
executives.

A spokesman for the Wells Fargo board of directors, Paul
Scarpetta at Sard Verbinnen & Co, declined to comment further.

Wells Fargo said on Tuesday the board’s investigation was
ongoing and was expected to be completed before the company’s
annual shareholder meeting in April.

Wells Fargo shares had little reaction to the news and were
up 0.14 percent at $58.19. Wells Fargo shares, along with those
of most other banks, have posted strong gains in the months
following the U.S. presidential election as investors react to
higher interest rates and what they expect to be a more
permissive regulatory environment.

In January, the bank reported its fifth straight decline in
quarterly earnings as other large banks, including JPMorgan
Chase & Co and Bank of America Corp posted
gains.

(Additional reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru)



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