OCC drops hammer on Stumpf, seven other ex-Wells Fargo execs

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Federal regulators on Thursday announced settlements with three former top executives at Wells Fargo, including onetime Chairman and CEO John Stumpf, as well as civil charges against five other high-level ex-officials at the scandal-plagued bank.

Stumpf, who resigned in October 2016 following revelations that bank employees opened millions of potentially unauthorized customer accounts, agreed to pay a $17.5 million penalty, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which announced the charges. Stumpf also agreed to a ban from the banking industry.

Carrie Tolstedt, who headed Wells Fargo’s community bank, is facing civil charges that the OCC hopes will result in a $25 million civil money penalty and a ban from the banking industry. Tolstedt can request a hearing challenging the allegations, as can other individuals who did not reach settlements.

The OCC alleges that Tolstedt and the four other individuals who face civil charges failed to adequately perform their duties, which contributed to sales misconduct dating back all the way to 2002.

Tolstedt’s lawyer, Enu Mainigi of Williams & Connolly, said in an email Thursday that a full and fair examination of the facts will vindicate her client. “Throughout her career, Ms. Tolstedt acted with the utmost integrity and concern for doing the right thing,” Mainigi said.

Wells Fargo’s current CEO, Charlie Scharf, said in a message to the company’s employees that the bank is reviewing the OCC’s actions to determine whether to take any further action against any of the named individuals. Wells has previously announced clawbacks totaling $69 million from Stumpf and $67 million from Tolstedt.

“The OCC’s actions are consistent with our belief that significant parts of the operating model of our community bank were flawed,” Scharf said Thursday. “At the time of the sales practices issues, the company did not have in place the appropriate people, structure, processes, controls, or culture to prevent the inappropriate conduct. This was inexcusable.”

The other former Wells Fargo executives who face civil charges include onetime General Counsel James Strother, who faces a potential $5 million penalty. A lawyer for Strother said in an email that the charges are false and unfounded, and that Strother intends to vigorously defend against them.

“At all times, Mr. Strother acted with the utmost integrity and transparency, including with the bank’s board, senior management, and its regulators,” his lawyer, Walt Brown, said.

Also charged were David Julian, who was the bank’s chief auditor, and Paul McLinko, who served as executive audit director. Lawyers for both men said the OCC's charges lack support and are based on hindsight. They said that they look forward to trials where they can clear their clients' names.

The OCC also alleged that Claudia Russ Anderson, who was group risk officer in Wells Fargo’s community banking unit, made false statements to regulators and actively obstructed examinations. The OCC is seeking to recover $5 million from her.

“The actions announced by the OCC today reinforce the agency’s expectations that management and employees of national banks and federal savings associations provide fair access to financial services, treat customers fairly, and comply with applicable laws and regulations,” Comptroller Joseph Otting said in a press release.

The OCC also said that it has reached settlements with former Wells Fargo Chief Administrative Officer Hope Hardison, who will pay a $2.25 million penalty, and former Chief Risk Officer Michael Loughlin, who will pay $1.25 million.

The agency said that it took into account both the culpability of the eight individuals and their financial resources, including compensation that was previously clawed back by Wells Fargo.

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