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Waters Statement on Wells Fargo’s Asset Cap

Following the announcement by the Federal Reserve that it will “temporarily and narrowly modify the growth restriction on Wells Fargo so that it can provide additional support to small businesses,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, made the following statement:

“The economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic is a unique and unprecedented situation in which we need banks to make credit available to small businesses, which are the lifeblood of our economy.

“The Fed must carefully monitor Wells Fargo and make sure that vulnerable small business owners are protected. It is also important that this asset cap modification is temporary, and that Wells Fargo still be required to fix the widespread problems that have plagued the bank and its customers.

“Wells Fargo remains a deeply troubled institution which still does not have sufficient risk management or compliance systems in place within the company to prevent consumer abuses. In March, I and Congressman Al Green released a staff report finding serious ongoing problems at Wells Fargo, and that the potential for widespread consumer harm remains at the bank. The report showed dereliction of duty from the board chairs of the bank and company and led to their resignations. Wells Fargo still has a lot of work to do to correct its chronic problems.

“Let’s not forget that Wells Fargo opened 3.5 million fraudulent accounts in their customers’ names, charged customers for auto insurance policies they did not need, and ripped off veterans by overcharging them for refinance loans, just to name a few of their consumer abuses in recent years.” 

In March, following reports that Wells Fargo & Company had requested that the Federal Reserve remove an asset cap imposed in response to widespread consumer abuses and compliance breakdowns, Chairwoman Waters wrote a letter to Jerome H. Powell, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, requesting additional information and a staff briefing on the matter.

Also in March, Chairwoman Waters convened two hearings on Wells Fargo:

  • A full Committee hearing entitled, “Holding Wells Fargo Accountable: CEO Perspectives on Next Steps for the Bank that Broke America’s Trust,” with testimony from Charles Scharf, Chief Executive Officer and President, Wells Fargo & Company.
  • A full Committee hearing entitled, “Holding Wells Fargo Accountable: Examining the Role of the Board of Directors in the Bank’s Egregious Pattern of Consumer Abuses,” with testimony from Elizabeth A. Duke, Former Chair, Board of Directors, Wells Fargo & Company and James H. Quigley, Former Chair, Board of Directors, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Duke and Quigley resigned from their positions shortly before the hearing following the release of a Majority staff report entitled, “The Real Wells Fargo: Board & Management Failures, Consumer Abuses, and Ineffective Regulatory Oversight.”

In February, Chairwoman Waters blasted the disappointing settlement between Wells Fargo, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and announced her plans to continue efforts to hold the megabank accountable by convening three hearings on Wells Fargo the following month.

In March of 2019, Chairwoman Waters convened a hearing entitled, “Holding Megabanks Accountable: An Examination of Wells Fargo’s Pattern of Consumer Abuses” with Timothy Sloan, then-President and Chief Executive Officer of Wells Fargo.

Shortly after Chairwoman Waters and Committee Democrats pressed Sloan about ongoing management failures and repeated consumer abuses, it came to light that he had received a $2 million bonus the previous year. Chairwoman Waters and Committee Democrats pushed for Sloan’s removal, and days later, he resigned.

In February of 2018, then-Ranking Member Waters applauded the Federal Reserve Board’s announcement that it would restrict Wells Fargo’s growth until the company sufficiently improves its governance and control.

In September of 2017, then-Ranking Member Waters released a Democratic staff report detailing a pattern of abusive business practices by Wells Fargo and finding that prudential regulators have not utilized the full extent of their authorities to end unlawful practices at megabanks like Wells Fargo.

In August of 2017, then- Ranking Member Waters and other Committee Ranking Members wrote to former Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling requesting a public hearing to review the ongoing violations of consumer rights by Wells Fargo.

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