Wells Fargo altered documents about business clients

Wells Fargo recently discovered that some workers altered documents about business customers, raising new concerns ab...

Posted: May 17, 2018 7:59 PM
Updated: May 17, 2018 7:59 PM

Wells Fargo recently discovered that some workers altered documents about business customers, raising new concerns about the embattled bank's internal system of checks-and-balances.

The improper activity took place in 2017 and early 2018 and was brought to light by multiple Wells Fargo employees who alerted management, a person familiar with the matter told CNNMoney.

The document altering happened in Wells Fargo's business banking group, which caters to medium-sized businesses with annual sales of $5 million to $20 million.

A Wells Fargo investigation found that some employees may have broke with procedure when they changed forms that are required by anti-money laundering laws, the person said. So far, the probe found the employees were not trying to hurt customers or falsify data, the person said.

Wells Fargo has been trying -- and largely failing -- to turn the page on a series of scandals that have rocked the bank for the past 20 months and led to unprecedented sanctions.

News of the document altering, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, drove Wells Fargo shares down nearly 2%.

A Wells Fargo spokesman acknowledged in a statement on Thursday that "some" employees were "not following proper procedures in the filling out of required customer forms."

"No customers were negatively impacted, no data left the company and no products and services were sold," Wells Fargo said.

Related: Facebook, Uber, Wells Fargo: 3 corporate apology ads

Wells Fargo notified regulators at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency about the matter and the agency is investigating, the person said.

The OCC said it does not comment on supervisory matters related to specific banks.

The Wells Fargo document altering took place as its business banking group had been racing to meet a June 30 deadline from the OCC to fix anti-money-laundering problems, the Journal reported.

In 2015, the OCC ordered Wells Fargo to clean up "critical internal control deficiencies" in the business banking group related to due diligence and customer risk assessment.

Federal laws require banks to know who their customers are and report suspicious activity, such as potential terrorism financing and money laundering, to the government.

It's not the first time Wells Fargo has been accused of improper activity with its business clients. A lawsuit filed last year alleged Wells Fargo's merchant services division ripped off vulnerable mom-and-pop businesses on credit card fees.

Wells Fargo has sought to fix internal problems that allowed the fake-accounts scandal to fester for many years. The bank eliminated sales goals, centralized monitoring systems, launched an ethics office and encouraged employees to speak up about bad behavior they witness.

"Over the past several months we've built more robust internal processes that reinforce our values," Wells Fargo said in the statement. "If we find any situations where behavior violates those values, we take swift action to correct."

Related: Wells Fargo owes $97 million to California workers

The latest bad news for Wells Fargo comes at a difficult time.

Last week, Wells Fargo signaled that the Federal Reserve is unlikely to lift huge sanctions on the bank until next year. The Fed penalties, instituted in February for "widespread consumer abuses," prohibit the bank from growing its balance sheet until it cleans up its act.

Jerome Powell, chairman of the Fed, also agreed to a request from Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren that a public vote by top Fed officials will determine whether Wells Fargo's penalties are lifted.

Analysts said that elevating the Fed's Wells Fargo decision to the level of the top decisionmakers could extend the bank's stay in the penalty box.

"There needs to be an extended period -- measured in months -- without any new controversies at the bank before the Federal Reserve is likely to consider lifting the cap," Jaret Seiberg, financial services analyst at Cowen Washington Research Group, wrote to clients last week.

Wells Fargo recently launched an ad campaign aimed at regaining the trust of customers that has been lost during the scandals.

"Wells Fargo can't advertise itself out of these problems," said Stephen Beck, founder of management consulting firm cg42. "It needs to fundamentally change its approach to governance and put customers back at the center of its business."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1462456

Reported Deaths: 20308
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2005922494
Lake992001456
Allen903391005
Hamilton70705539
St. Joseph63078746
Elkhart48098622
Vanderburgh46217523
Tippecanoe42115330
Johnson37119516
Hendricks35078455
Porter33900460
Madison28036530
Clark25186321
Vigo24768341
LaPorte22894307
Monroe22201243
Howard21344372
Delaware20937363
Hancock18289217
Kosciusko17513199
Bartholomew17399212
Warrick16060212
Wayne15757296
Floyd15399252
Grant14898293
Morgan13934230
Boone13172136
Noble11421140
Dearborn11355112
Henry11312201
Shelby11231150
Marshall11041166
Dubois10782152
Jackson10174104
DeKalb9944128
Cass9942142
Lawrence9914219
Huntington9823139
Gibson9131125
Montgomery9005140
Knox8762124
Harrison8718111
Whitley844771
Steuben8340102
Jasper8069113
Putnam795197
Clinton792994
Miami7914133
Wabash7598138
Jefferson7551124
Ripley6993111
Adams6508101
Scott629086
Daviess6266127
White602379
Greene5913111
Clay587173
Wells5814120
Decatur5754118
Jennings572276
Fayette5657121
Posey529146
LaGrange512996
Randolph4925128
Washington482067
Owen480398
Fountain463579
Spencer438156
Starke434086
Sullivan432164
Fulton426790
Orange412682
Jay403964
Rush395736
Carroll371349
Franklin369850
Perry362155
Vermillion345062
Pike308945
Tipton307974
Parke305038
Pulaski266973
Blackford266755
Newton228359
Brown222654
Benton213321
Crawford211231
Switzerland189414
Martin181921
Warren169520
Union163619
Ohio119516
Unassigned0742

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2403645

Reported Deaths: 30922
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2596932036
Cuyahoga2572672998
Hamilton1666711699
Montgomery1103831586
Summit1066861382
Lucas895171149
Butler78647924
Stark747301383
Lorain62885783
Warren49934468
Mahoning49735909
Lake46850586
Clermont43541428
Delaware38876210
Trumbull38576748
Medina37611416
Licking36901401
Fairfield33848331
Greene32124416
Portage31381356
Clark30277440
Richland28251420
Wood27660289
Allen24372392
Miami22806389
Muskingum22298244
Columbiana22095399
Wayne21275354
Tuscarawas18847423
Erie18041221
Ashtabula17932338
Marion17503231
Scioto16553203
Ross16163249
Pickaway15536173
Hancock15251227
Geauga15244221
Lawrence13847186
Huron13399182
Union1329683
Belmont13255247
Jefferson12864257
Sandusky12770197
Athens11949106
Knox11511195
Seneca11454200
Ashland10795174
Darke10673196
Washington10564168
Auglaize10152141
Crawford9854175
Shelby9699155
Brown9400140
Fulton9235148
Guernsey9109115
Defiance9057134
Highland9035143
Logan8955141
Clinton8719121
Mercer8640111
Madison8568104
Preble8002160
Williams7848135
Putnam7731135
Ottawa7629120
Champaign7556112
Jackson7383114
Perry714598
Coshocton7043136
Morrow694580
Fayette662287
Hardin6219125
Pike617086
Gallia594989
Adams5779124
Van Wert5779120
Henry565592
Hocking5521103
Carroll4828100
Wyandot482289
Holmes4747161
Paulding401163
Meigs375071
Monroe299368
Noble279851
Harrison279461
Morgan276848
Vinton239845
Unassigned08
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 23°
Angola
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 26°
Huntington
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 25°
Decatur
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 23°
Van Wert
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 23°
A gusty south wind pushes temperatures above the freezing mark Tuesday afternoon.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events