Sen. Warren Take Aim at Wells Fargo's CEO

October 19, 2018

By Bridgette Webb

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wants regulators to exert serious pressure on Wells Fargo ー pressure she hopes will result in the resignation of CEO Tim Sloan. But it's unclear whether the Senator's coaxing will have any real effect, said Pete Schroeder, a financial correspondent at Reuters.

"On paper, Warren can't make the Fed do anything," Schroeder said Friday in an interview on Cheddar.

The central bank is an independent regulator and technically can't make Wells Fargo ($WFC) do anything either, he pointed out. And the board "so far has been supportive of Tim Sloan."

"What's interesting with this new letter is that Warren is trying to enlist the Fed in her effort. Her argument is that you can't overhaul the bank's policies and keep Tim Sloan, who has been at the bank for 30 years," Schroeder said.

Wells first came under fire in 2016 when news surfaced that employees secretly created millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts without customers' knowledge. The phony accounts charged customers with unjustified fees and allowed Wells employees to boost their sales figures and earn more in commissions.

The massive scandal resulted in the ouster of then-CEO John Stumpf and the promotion of Sloan, who was the bank's president at the time. He'd also previously served as chief operating officer and CFO.

But under his leadership, issues have continued to rock the bank, including the news that it improperly repossessed military service members’ cars.

In a letter to the Federal Reserve on Thursday, Warren argued that Sloan is profoundly implicated in the bank's misconduct.

"[She's] really putting a lot of pressure on the bank and really pushing for [it] to really overhaul the organization, basically saying it's clear that they are not running the bank in anything close to an appropriate fashion."

According to Schroeder, "Warren has been on the bank from the first scandal."

In February, the Fed made the unprecedented move of ordering Wells Fargo to keep its assets below $2 trillion, saying the company had prioritized growth over compliance with regulation. Warren wants to keep that cap on business in place until Sloan is essentially forced to resign.

For full interview click here.