SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - The allegations that brought to light questionable practices at Wells Fargo and Co. have prompted the international banking corporation to conduct its own internal investigation on the matter.
The independent members of the board of directors of Wells Fargo and Co. announced on Sept. 27 that they have decided to launch an impartial investigation on the illegal and fraudulent practices alleged by Gary Hefler in his lawsuit against the company. The independent directors said the accusations have alarmed the members of the board and the entire company.
The board appointed a special committee to conduct the internal investigation. The group will work alongside the human resources committee to cross-check the information on the employees named in the lawsuit. In addition to the two committees, the board also sought the services of Shearman & Sterling as its independent counsel.
Stephen Sanger, the lead independent director of the independent members of the board at Wells Fargo, said that the allegations are causing deep concern among the company’s employees and shareholders. To ensure that the integrity of the corporation remains intact, they have resolved to conduct a meticulous investigation on the allegations. If the accusations are proven to be true, then the independent board will not hesitate to impose the necessary penalties.
“We are deeply concerned by these matters, and we are committed to ensuring that all aspects of the company’s business are conducted with integrity, transparency, and oversight,” Sanger said in an official statement on the scandal.
“We will conduct this investigation with the diligence it deserves — and will follow the facts wherever they lead. Our thousands of outstanding team members and millions of loyal customers and shareholders deserve no less."
Wells Fargo faced backlash over the accusations made by Hefler, who says the bank forced its employees to open 2 million account and credit cards under the names of its customers without the consent and knowledge of the latter.
Upon learning of these allegations, which date back to 2011, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau hit the corporation with $185 million in fines and the bank dismissed 5,300 bank employees.
"Based on the results of the investigation, the independent members of the board will take such other actions as they collectively deem appropriate, which may include further compensation actions before any additional equity awards vest or bonus decisions are made early next year, clawbacks of compensation already paid out, and other employment-related actions," Sanger said.
Sanger further guaranteed the public that the board aims to provide solutions and answers as soon as possible to put an immediate end to the controversy. He also assured that the company is committed to preserving the values of Wells Fargo especially in terms of following only ethical practices in their business. Sanger added that the issue at hand has encouraged them to look into ways to improve the guidelines of the company.
“We will proceed with a sense of urgency but will take the time we need to conduct a thorough investigation," Sanger said in the statement. "We will then take all appropriate actions to reinforce the right culture and ensure that lessons are learned, misconduct is addressed, and systems and processes are improved so there can be no repetition of similar conduct."