Wells Fargo freed from sanctions over treatment of service members

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Wells Fargo is no longer facing regulatory sanctions over allegations that it failed to honor certain legal protections that are afforded to members of the U.S. military.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency terminated its 22-month-old consent order with the bank last week, but did not publicize the action.

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said in a press release Tuesday that the OCC’s decision to terminate the order validates the bank’s efforts to do a better job of complying with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

“This is another important step in our journey to fix issues, build a better bank, and most importantly ensure we are caring for the hard-working men and women who bravely serve and defend our country,” Sloan said.

In September 2016, the OCC found that the San Francisco bank had failed to obtain court orders before repossessing automobiles owned by members of the military. The Justice Department said in a separate statement from the same time that Wells had illegally repossessed 413 cars.

The OCC also found that the bank did not accurately disclose customers’ active-duty status to judges before evictions, among other violations.

The consent order was signed just weeks after Wells was fined $190 million for failing to prevent employees from opening fake bank and credit card accounts in order to meet sales goals. The OCC imposed a $20 million civil money penalty, ordered Wells Fargo to pay restitution to affected customers, and required the bank to establish an enterprisewide compliance program.

In its statement Tuesday, the $1.9 trillion-asset bank pointed to several steps that it took to satisfy its obligations under the consent order.

Those steps included implementing processes to provide benefits and protections owed to members of the military on a proactive basis; initiating quarterly checks of a database that is maintained by the Department of Defense; and delivering restitution to customers who were harmed.

“Refund amounts varied based on a customer’s individual situation, but would generally be comprised of refunds of fees, adjusted balances or other monetary relief,” the bank said in its press release.

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