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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 CrapoSenate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week Biden says he and GOP both 'sincere about' seeking infrastructure compromise The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted 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 WarrenLawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats Warren calls for US to support ceasefire between Israel and Hamas Sanders: Netanyahu has cultivated 'racist nationalism' MORE (Mass.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe 'frills' of Biden's infrastructure plan are real needs Senate Democrats offer bill to scrap tax break for investment managers Wyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' 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 ClintonCongress won't end the wars, so states must Democrats say it's up to GOP to stop Trump 2024 Hillary Clinton to speak at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders summit 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.