None of the big four banks manages to keep its nose clean quite like Wells Fargo.
For every London Whale that swims through JPMorgan, or legacy mortgage program that threatens to sink Bank of America, or the sundry little crises that have rocked Citigroup in the last decade, Wells Fargo somehow manages to float just above the gutter, too careful or too boring to be criticized or punished.
Wells is like the student body president prom queen secretly slamming speedballs before school in the girls bathroom. Everyone knows she ain't perfect, but she always manages to stay out of detention.
So imagine the surprise in the finance locker room when this hit the newswires today...
Wells Fargo & Co. will pay $185 million to resolve claims that bank employees opened deposit and credit-card accounts without customers’ approval to satisfy sales goals and earn financial rewards, U.S. regulators said.
What?! Wells Fargo? Our Wells Fargo?
Well surely it couldn't have been all that bad...
The lender opened more than 2 million accounts that consumers may not have known about, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in a statement Thursday. Wells Fargo, which fired 5,300 employees over the improper sales practices, agreed to pay a $100 million fine to the CFPB, $35 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and $50 million to the Los Angeles city attorney to settle the matter. The San Francisco-based bank also will compensate customers who incurred fees or charges, the agencies said.
Holy shit, Wells Fargo. What the hell is going on over there you guys?
5,300 employees?! Is John Stumpf smoking bath salts?
2 million accounts?! Is (as our siblings over at AbovetheLaw wonder) the compliance department in the midst of one of those five-year-long off-sites?
Really, Wells Fargo? We always knew there was some naughty Veronica hiding behind that Betty exterior, but this is DARK.
"Wells Fargo employees secretly opened unauthorized accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in his agency’s statement. “Because of the severity of these violations, Wells Fargo is paying the largest penalty the CFPB has ever imposed."
Oh yeah, and this too. The largest CFPB fine ever? You might as well have just turned yourself in to Elizabeth Warren personally. She's going to have a ball with this one, because you have effectively helped her set the banking sector's reputation back to 2008 levels of trustworthiness.
Thousands of employees at Wells Fargo were involved in opening accounts and moving funds that resulted in customers getting charged fees for services they didn’t seek, according to the regulators.
What do you have to say for yourselves?
“We regret and take responsibility for any instances where customers may have received a product that they did not request,” Wells Fargo said in its statement.
Umm...that's how you want to play this?
The bank hadn’t disclosed the investigation in recent regulatory filings.
“Each quarter we consider all available relevant and appropriate facts and circumstances in determining whether a litigation matter is material and disclosed in our public filings,” Mary Eshet, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “Based upon that review, we determined that the matter was not material.”
We're taking back your sash and hall pass, Wells Fargo. You've lost your damn mind.