Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

CEO Sloan pitches Wells Fargo turnaround to bank critics in Congress

CEO Sloan pitches Wells Fargo turnaround to bank critics in Congress

A rally at noon at Wells Fargo's headquarters in San Francisco next Monday will be the grande finale of a multi-day demonstration. "And in a securities filing this month, Wells Fargo said it could be required to pay as much as $2.7 billion more than it had set aside as of the end of December to resolve legal cases, including ongoing probes by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission".

But Democrats - and some Republicans - on the House Financial Services Committee aren't buying it. A nervous Wall Street has been keen to see how the panel will treat the industry.

Wells Fargo was considered one of greater than a dozen monetary establishments to contribute financing to the undertaking, which has been attacked by its critics as environmentally unsafe and an encroachment upon Native American lands.

Sloan answered in the negative explaining that his bank does not operate the pipeline.

She went on to cite an opinion piece published by The Guardian in April 2017 that accused Wells Fargo of "pursuing profits without principles" by investing in for-profit immigration detention centers, private prisons and loan shark payday lending schemes.

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Sloan received some backup from Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), who said Waters was advocating for "socialism" that would transform the United States into "Venezuela".

"With all of this experience, the length of time you have been there and the roles that you have played, you have not been able to keep Wells Fargo out of trouble, you keep getting fined", Walters told Sloan.

Sloan said the bank has made amends.

The hearing comes as Wells Fargo, which has a large presence in Charlotte, remains under intense scrutiny from federal authorities and lawmakers in the wake of the 2016 scandal and newer instances of customer harm. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has called for Sloan to leave the company.

Sloan's prepared remarks emphasized changes the bank has made to culture, sales practices and risk management, as well as efforts to repay wronged customers.

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McHenry asked Sloan whether the bank might disclose more instances of consumer abuses in the future.

The bank has also shaken up its board of directors and improved wages and benefits for its workers, Sloan said.

The CEO seemed to struggle to persuade some skeptical lawmakers that the bank's culture had changed amid repeated interruptions and aggressive, sometimes hectoring questioning from representatives including Brad Sherman, a Democrat. He thanked lawmakers for letting him discuss "the progress we are making as we work to become the most customer-focused, efficient and innovative Wells Fargo ever".

Sloan spoke as his bank remains under an unusual Federal Reserve measure imposed past year to restrict its growth.

Lawmakers could also ask about the bank's decision to cut thousands of, its pledge to boost stock buybacks and its forced arbitration policy for customers.

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After the hearing, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which past year fined Wells Fargo $1 billion for faulty mortgage and insurance products, echoed comments made by its head in October that the bank still had much work to do to. "We continue to be disappointed with [Wells Fargo's] performance under our consent orders and its inability to execute effective corporate governance and a successful risk management program", Bryan Hubbard, an agency spokesman, said in a statement.

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