Waters asks DOJ to probe former Wells Fargo chief

Bonnie Cash

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on Tuesday asked the Justice Department to investigate whether former Wells Fargo chief executive Timothy Sloan violated federal law and lied to Congress while testifying before the committee she chairs.

Waters, chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, asked Attorney General William Barr in a Tuesday letter to probe whether Sloan committed perjury during a March 12, 2019, hearing on Wells Fargo’s extensive oversight failures.

Sloan told the panel that Wells Fargo was in compliance with a consent order issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), forcing the bank to submit plans to compensate defrauded consumers and overhaul internal monitoring of its sales practices.

Even so, a report released by the committee Wednesday citing internal emails from OCC staffers alleged that Sloan’s assertion prompted confusion among agency officials because the bank had repeatedly failed to meet the terms of the consent order.

“Because this matter involves a potential violation of a federal criminal statute, I am requesting that the DOJ [Department of Justice] review Mr. Sloan’s testimony along with the evidence presented in the enclosed copy of my staff’s report and take such action as the DOJ deems appropriate,” Waters wrote.

Waters said last week she was considering a criminal referral for Sloan.  

Josh Cohen, an attorney for Sloan, said in an email that the allegation that Sloan “provided inaccurate and misleading testimony to the House Financial Services Committee is completely unfounded. Mr. Sloan described the considerable efforts that Wells Fargo made under his leadership to comply with the consent orders and directives of regulators.

“His testimony to the Committee about those efforts was truthful and in good faith,” Cohen continued

The OCC order was one of several legal and regulatory penalties levied on Wells Fargo after the bank opened and charged fees on millions of bank and credit card accounts opened without authorization or through abusive tactics. 

The bank was also sued for failing to make promised interest rate adjustments on auto and home loans, and forcing customers to buy unnecessary insurance products.

Updated at 4:34 p.m.

Tags Maxine Waters William Barr
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