September 6, 2018 / 3:21 PM / 14 days ago

U.S. probing Wells Fargo's wholesale banking unit: WSJ

(Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department is probing whether employees committed fraud in Wells Fargo & Co’s (WFC.N) wholesale banking unit, following revelations that employees improperly altered customer information, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

A Wells Fargo logo is seen in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, U.S. on February 10, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo

The department has sought more information from the bank to see if management pressure prompted the employees to improperly alter or add the information prior to a regulatory deadline, the Journal reported, citing the same people.

The Justice Department is interested in learning if there is a pattern of unethical and potentially fraudulent employee behavior tied to management pressure, the WSJ reported.

The incident happened in 2017 and early 2018 as Wells Fargo was trying to meet a deadline to comply with a regulatory consent order related to the bank’s anti-money-laundering controls, according to a WSJ report in May.

The report also said the bank had reported the problem to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the agency was probing the problem.

“This .. previously disclosed situation involved a new process and a new required document called Certification of Beneficial Owners that our team members have to complete to help ensure we know our customers.” said Wells Fargo spokesman Alan Elias in an emailed statement, adding that additional training and new procedures had now been applied.

“Even though this matter has not negatively impacted our customers, we take all issues relative to documentation seriously. If we get something wrong, we fix it.” Elias said.

Wells Fargo, smarting from a prolonged sales scandal in its retail banking business, has been a subject of a number of regulatory probes.

Shares of Wells Fargo closed down 1.73 percent at $57.93 on Thursday.

Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Anil D'Silva and Chris Reese

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