U.S. senators raise questions over fired Wells Fargo workers

Fri Nov 4, 2016 3:43pm EDT
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By Elizabeth Dilts and Dan Freed

(Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N: Quote) has fired hundreds of employees with Wall Street licenses for improper sales practices, three U.S. senators said on Thursday.

In a letter to Wells Fargo Chief Executive Tim Sloan, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden and Robert Menendez questioned the bank's disclosures about those employees' dismissals in required regulatory filings.

The letter is the first indication that customers of the brokerage business, known as Wells Fargo Advisors, may also have been affected by the earlier problems involving Wells Fargo staff opening customer accounts without permission.

The employees who were fired worked for Wells Fargo's retail bank but were licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a Wall Street regulator that oversees brokers, Wells Fargo said on Friday. Some bankers obtained securities licenses so they could refer branch customers to the brokerage arm.

Wells Fargo said in September it would pay $185 million in penalties and $5 million to customers for opening up to two million deposit and credit-card accounts in customers' names without their permission.

The San Francisco-based bank said it fired 5,300 workers for improper sales practices over a period of five years.

Reuters reported in October that thousands of small business customers have also been affected.

"It would appear that Wells Fargo concealed key information from regulators that may have revealed the bank's misdeeds long before the September 2016 settlement," the senators wrote, requesting more information.   Continued...

A Wells Fargo bank is seen in Del Mar, California January 17, 2012.   REUTERS/Mike Blake