Wells Fargo is again being investigated for its illegal and unethical lending and business practices. This time the Justice Department is examining allegations first reported in the Wall Street Journal that Wells Fargo employees improperly and illegally added information to customer documents without the consent of the customer.
Years of Unethical Behavior
According to the Wall Street Journal, “The Justice Department is interested to learn if there is a pattern of unethical and potentially fraudulent employee behavior tied to management pressure. The employees in the wholesale banking unit, the side of the bank that deals with corporate customers, mishandled the documents last year and earlier this year.”
The bank’s own review of its internal processes with its wholesale banking division revealed that these problems were more widespread that it previously thought.
“The Wall Street Journal previously reported that employees altered the customer documents as Wells Fargo was rushing to meet a deadline to comply with a 2015 consent order from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The regulator had ordered the bank to beef up its anti-money-laundering controls, including its processes for ensuring that there are proper identification documents and that the bank has the ability to see client activities across a common database.
When the OCC issued the consent order, Wells Fargo had more than 100,000 customer accounts it needed to verify. Wells Fargo in May formally asked the OCC for an extension beyond the initial June 30, 2018, deadline.
What Is Wells Fargo up to Now?
Over the past year or so, the bank has been reaching out to thousands of clients requesting updated documentation on information such as relevant client addresses or dates of birth. Banks must have certain information, known as “know your customer” regulatory requirements, in order to keep banking their clients. “
This is just another in a string of embarrassing revelations regarding Wells Fargo’s unethical and often illegal business practices. Starting in 2015, Wells Fargo has endured numerous criminal investigations. These investigations have led to criminal indictments of several key senior managers and even the forced retirement of their president. In fact, the bank feels that it’s reputation has been so tarnished that it recently launched a huge public relations campaign designed to win back the trust of its shareholders and customers. The PR Campaign states:
Perhaps they should change the slogan to: