Waters will call Wells Fargo's board members to testify in 2020

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WASHINGTON — The House Financial Services Committee will call members of Wells Fargo's board of directors to testify next year, Chairwoman Maxine Waters said Thursday.

The California Democrat said in an interview that the bank's board members will be asked to appear along with new Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf.

“While they are not involved in the day-to-day operations, they are involved in the direction and should know how things are operating,” Waters said of the bank's board. “So we are going to be bringing in at least a few of the board members.”

Waters did not say which specific board members would be called in to testify. The bank’s board is chaired by Elizabeth Duke, a former Federal Reserve governor.

Waters' comments come as the bank has been heavily scrutinized by lawmakers, particularly Democrats, over a series of scandals in the past three years.

“We are going to put a lot of attention on Wells Fargo,” Waters said in response to a question about the committee’s oversight plans for 2020.

The bank has undergone multiple leadership changes after a 2016 scandal involving the opening of roughly 3.5 million bogus accounts.

Then-CEO John Stumpf resigned after several lawmakers called for his firing. His immediate successor was Tim Sloan, who announced his resignation in March 2019 shortly after testifying before the House committee. Scharf was announced as the new CEO in September, stepping down as chief executive of Bank of New York Mellon. He has said his first priority will be resolving regulatory issues.

But Wells’ problems didn’t stop at the fake-accounts scandal. It was later revealed that the bank forced customers into auto insurance they did not need. And a mortgage loan software error led to hundreds of erroneous foreclosures.

“They have been fined billions of dollars,” Waters said. “They have been caught creating accounts in their customers’ names that the customers didn’t even know about. And forcing insurance on customers that they did not need.”

This isn’t the first time Congress has put Wells Fargo board members have been put on notice. In 2017, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., currently a presidential candidate, called on then-Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to remove all of Wells Fargo’s board members who served during the fake-accounts scandal.

A spokesperson for Wells Fargo did not have a comment on Waters' plans to have members of the board testify.

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Crime and misconduct Enforcement actions Maxine Waters Charles Scharf Wells Fargo House Financial Services Committee