Federal regulators have raised new complaints against two former top Wells Fargo executives for their role in the bank’s wrongdoings, accusing them of misleading investors about the customer-facing unit’s financial results individual.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday that John G. Stumpf, the bank’s former chief executive, agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine to settle allegations of fraud against him. The regulator also filed a lawsuit against Carrie L. Tolstedt, the former director of Wells Fargo’s community bank, in federal court in San Francisco.
The two executives made false certifications about the bank’s finances, the SEC said, because they knew or should have known that Wells Fargo’s sales numbers were inflated by opening unauthorized or unnecessary customer accounts.
“If executives are talking about a key performance metric to promote their business, they need to do so completely and accurately,” said Stephanie Avakian, the agency’s chief enforcement officer.
Ms Tolstedt “was an honest and conscientious leader”, Enu Mainigi, her lawyer, said in response to the complaint. “It is unfair and unfounded for the SEC to single out Ms. Tolstedt when her statements were not only true but also thoroughly verified by others within Wells Fargo’s policies, procedures and control systems.”
Mr. Stumpf’s attorney declined to comment on the SEC settlement.
Wells Fargo problems burst into public view in 2016 when the bank admitted that its employees had opened what could have been millions of fraudulent accounts on behalf of customers to meet the bank’s aggressive sales targets. The fallout has been significant and brought to light other deceptive acts in Wells Fargo’s mortgage and auto lending operations. The bank paid a succession of regulatory penalties, including a $1 billion fineand purged much of its senior leadership.
The bank paid $500 million in February to settle charges brought by the SEC against the bank for misleading investors. Friday’s charges are the first the agency has brought against individual Wells Fargo executives, although another regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, has loaded multiple frames, including Mr. Stumpf and Mrs. Tolstedt. As part of his settlement with the OCC, Mr. Stumpf had agreed to a lifetime ban from banking.
Wells Fargo still operates under a Federal Reserve restriction this limits its growth until regulators are satisfied that its conduct and internal controls have improved. “The time and resources that the management team devotes to this are extraordinary,” Charles W. Scharf, the bank’s current chief executive, told investors last month.
It also faces a new allegation that it still does not meet its regulatory requirements.
Kelly Halvorson, a Minnesota employee tasked with monitoring the activities of Wells Fargo’s commercial banking group for signs that criminals were trying to use the bank for illicit purposes, said in a lawsuit filed this week that her bosses put her on administrative leave after her presentation. evidence that Wells Fargo was not tracking the owners of some of its business bank accounts. The bank also failed to report certain activities to regulators, she said.
A Wells Fargo spokesperson declined to comment on Ms Halvorson’s claims.