A federal judge rejected an attempt by the Securities and Exchange Commission to compel Wells Fargo (WFC) to comply with an administrative subpoena, ordering the agency and the bank to meet to resolve their dispute over documents related to the agency's investigation of nearly $60 billion of residential mortgage-backed securities.
The SEC had filed a subpoena enforcement action on March 23, accusing Wells of failing to respond to at least six subpoenas related to its investigation.
On Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler of the Northern District Court in San Francisco denied the SEC's motion without prejudice and directed the two parties to "comply with the procedures for addressing discovery disputes," by meeting "in person," if necessary.
The SEC is investigating whether Wells Fargo made "material misrepresentations or omitted material facts" about whether loans securitized and sold to investors from September 2006 to early 2008 complied with the bank's underwriting standards.
The SEC declined to comment.
Wells Fargo spokesman Ancel Martinez on Friday said the bank was "pleased' with Judge Beeler's ruling. The motion "falsely accuses Wells Fargo of not cooperating in connection with an investigation by the SEC staff," Martinez said in an emailed statement.
On 68 separate occasions, Wells Fargo produced documents for the SEC, totaling more than 750,000 pages, according to Martinez, who added that the bank had responded to the "vast majority" of the SEC's 96 requests, Martinez said.
"Over 100 people, including Wells' internal and outside counsel and multiple Wells employees, have expended thousands of hours gathering and producing documents to the SEC Staff," Martinez said. "Wells Fargo looks forward to addressing the lack of merit of the underlying substantive issues addressed by the SEC."