Some Wells Fargo & Co. employees reportedly altered information improperly on documents related to certain business customers, adding another layer to the banking giant’s woes.
Wells Fargo already has been heavily sanctioned by federal regulators over its problems, including a massive fake-accounts scandal that erupted in September 2016. The sanctions include having the bank’s asset growth capped while it works to improve its corporate governance.
Employees in Wells Fargo’s wholesale unit — which is separate from its retail bank — added or altered information, including Social Security numbers, on certain documents without customers’ knowledge in 2017 and early this year, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing unidentified sources.
The employees did so as the San Francisco-based bank was trying to meet a deadline to comply with one of the regulators’ consent orders, and to meet new disclosure requirements from another regulator, the report said.
The bank learned about the behavior from its employees and, after investigating, reported the problem to one of its main federal regulators, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the newspaper said.
Wells Fargo issued a statement saying that the matter involved “documents used for internal purposes. No customers were negatively impacted, no data left the company, and no products or services were sold as a result.”
“We can’t comment directly on regulatory matters, but over the past several months we've built more robust internal processes that reinforce our values, and if we find any situations where behavior violates those values, we take swift action to correct,” the bank said.
Wells Fargo’s stock was down 94 cents, or 1.7%, at $54.10 a share in afternoon trading Thursday.
The Federal Reserve in February ordered the bank to stop growing its assets beyond $1.95 trillion — where they stood at the end of last year — until Wells Fargo could show it had improved its risk-management operations and would no longer endanger customers.
Wells Fargo initially suggested the cap could be lifted later this year. But Chief Executive Timothy Sloan told investors last week that the penalty probably will continue into next year.
In one of the cases involving changed client documents, employees altered information while working on updated documentation received from thousands of customers that was needed to meet a consent order with the OCC concerning the bank’s anti-money-laundering controls, the Journal reported.
The other case of altering data involved the bank’s stepped-up efforts to provide certain necessary documentation to meet more stringent new rules from another regulator, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the report said.