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Senate Banking panel to grill Equifax, Wells Fargo chiefs next month

Senate Banking panel to grill Equifax, Wells Fargo chiefs next month
© Greg Nash

The Senate Banking Committee is set to host the CEOs of Equifax and Wells Fargo next month as as both companies face the fallout of massive financial scandals that have dominated headlines and tarnished their names.

Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan will testify before the Banking panel on Oct. 3, while Equifax CEO Richard Smith will appear on Oct. 4. Both executives are expected to face hostile questions from both parties after a series of missteps that have triggered federal investigations.

Sloan will likely face questions about the up to 3.5 million Wells Fargo accounts opened without customers’ consent, as well as the rampant sale of unwanted auto and life insurance policies through misleading tactics. His predecessor, John Stumpf, appeared before the Banking Committee in 2016 before retiring soon after.

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The Federal Reserve, Justice Department and several state agencies are investigating Wells Fargo, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined the bank more than $180 million in 2016, its biggest penalty yet issued.

Democratic lawmakers had been calling on Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden's Interior Department temporarily blocks new drilling on public lands | Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone | Judge grants preliminary approval for 0M Flint water crisis settlement Sweeping COVID-19, spending deal hits speed bumps McConnell in tough position as House eyes earmark return MORE (R-Idaho) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) to hold further hearings on Wells Fargo.

The House panel is currently investigating the massive bank.

Lawmakers will grill Equifax’s Smith on why the credit reporting company failed to disclose a security breach exposing as many as 144 million Americans’ sensitive financial information until months after hackers accessed the data.

Smith will also faces questions on why Equifax didn’t routinely update the exploited software, and why three top executives sold millions in Equifax stock days after the breach was discovered.

Wells Fargo and Equifax have been constant punching bags for lawmakers on both sides. The banking panel also features two of the Senate’s leading Democratic financial sector critics, Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCancel culture comes for the moderates Biden expands on Obama ethics pledge Student loan forgiveness would be windfall for dentists, doctors and lawyers MORE (Mass.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury Senate Democrats file ethics complaint against Hawley, Cruz over Capitol attack MORE (Ohio), who’ll likely provide fireworks during the hearings. Warren is a top 2020 presidential hopeful for Democrats, while Brown, whom Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden must wait weekend for State Department pick Texas Supreme Court rejects Alex Jones request to toss lawsuits from Sandy Hook parents Paris Agreement: Biden's chance to restore international standing MORE reportedly considered for her running mate last year, is running a tight race for re-election in 2018.

The Banking Committee also announced a hearing with Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton, set for Tuesday. It will be Clayton’s first appearance before the committee since his May confirmation, and he will likely face questions about the SEC’s cybersecurity after the agency revealed on Wednesday a 2016 breach of its Edgar filing system.