Wells Fargo CEO Grilled at Congressional Hearing Probing Customer Abuse Scandal

Wells Fargo Trails Bank Rally Before Tim Sloan's Big Day in Congress

The CEO of beleaguered Wells Fargo told Congress Tuesday that the bank has cleaned up its act after a series of scandals that affected millions of customers.

But House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., did not appear to believe him.

"I don't know how'd you calculate that, congresswoman", Sloan replied. "As a result, Wells Fargo is a better bank than it was three years ago".

In a tweet Monday, Waters said she "will be confronting Wells Fargo" during the hearing.

In another case, last year, the CFPB imposed a $1 billion fine against Wells Fargo for overcharging customers for mortgages and auto loans.

Questioning Sloan about its financing of companies that build pipelines including the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in South Dakota and the Keystone XL Pipeline, Ocasio-Cortez asked whether his bank should be held responsible for the environmental havoc wreaked by its investments.

"Uh, I don't know how to answer that question, because we weren't", Sloan responded.

Sloan was the first bank executive to be grilled by the House Financial Services Committee since it was taken over by Democrats following the 2018 congressional election.

The bank's scandals have included millions of unauthorized accounts to meet high-pressure sales goals, improperly repossessing cars, overcharging small businesses for credit card transactions and accidentally foreclosing on homeowners due to a software glitch.

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Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have both introduced legislation that would break up Wells Fargo, and Warren has been calling for Sloan to be fired since the fake-account scandal broke in late 2016.

Wells Fargo's scandals have been wide-ranging and costly.

The committee's ranking Republican Patrick McHenry made it clear that his party would not go soft on the country's fourth-largest USA bank as they sought evidence it had remedied customer abuses.

"Wells Fargo's ongoing lawlessness and failure to right the ship suggests the bank - with approximately $1.9 trillion in assets and serving one in three USA households is simply too big to manage", Waters said.

"We continue to be disappointed with Wells Fargo Bank N.A.'s performance. and its inability to execute effective corporate governance and a successful risk management program", said OCC spokesman Bryan Hubbard.

Tensions also flared as Democrats including Carolyn Maloney of NY and Ayanna Pressley of MA demanded Wells Fargo stop providing financial services to the National Rifle Association and firearms companies. The nation's fourth largest bank is also a principal promoter of the fracking industry.

"It doesn't feel like they've changed much of anything, to be honest", one of the employees, Meggan Halvorson, said in a statement.

Sloan said since assuming the role of chief executive, he's implemented a culture where the customer comes first.

The confrontation with lawmakers underscored how far Wells Fargo has yet to go to win back the public 30 months after it was fined for opening millions of bogus accounts for consumers. In 2012, Wells Fargo paid $175 million to settle allegations from the Justice Department that it had engaged in "systemic discrimination" involving more than 34,000 minority customers. Sloan is expected to return to the committee to testify in April, as are heads of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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