Wells Fargo former interim CEO Parker steps down as general counsel

(Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N said on Thursday general counsel Allen Parker, who briefly served as interim chief executive of the scandal-hit U.S bank, will step down next year.

A Wells Fargo logo is seen in New York City, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

The departure, effective March 2020, comes at a time when Charles Scharf is beginning to put his own mark on the bank’s leadership team. Last week, the fourth-largest U.S. bank hired former JP Morgan Chase JPM.N executive and previous White House official, William Daley, to head public affairs.

The appointment of Daley, a former Bank of New York Mellon executive, was an early sign that Scharf might bring in more of his long-time lieutenants.

Parker, who has focused on cleaning up existing issues and preventing them from spreading during his time at Wells, had earlier signaled that he had no plans to leave, and reiterated his desire to stay on when Scharf became CEO in late October.

“As interim CEO, Allen often spoke of the need for everyone at Wells Fargo to conduct our business with the highest levels of integrity,” Scharf told bank employees in a memo.

Parker joined Wells as general counsel in March 2017, served as interim CEO and president from March 2019 to October 2019, and then returned to the general counsel role.

In September, the Wall Street bank named Scharf as its next leader, after a wide-ranging sales practices scandal claimed two CEOs.

Parker was thrust into the top position when former CEO Tim Sloan retired, saying pressure from politicians and regulators had become a distraction in running the scandal-plagued bank.

At one point, some analysts and people within the bank believed Parker should take on the role permanently. However, regulators were keen on Wells Fargo appointing an outsider to clean up its operations with a fresh perspective.

Parker joined the bank as general counsel from law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where he was partner in charge of managing the firms operations.

Through his work at the firm defending high-profile clients like former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, he also developed relationships in Washington that were helpful while navigating Wells Fargo’s regulatory problems.

After becoming interim CEO, Parker made one of his priorities settling regulatory probes from agencies including the U.S. Department of Justice.

Wells Fargo said it would start a search for Parker’s replacement immediately.

Reporting by Bharath Manjesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Tomasz Janowski