Wells Fargo Bank finds itself facing another whistleblower lawsuit, this time filed by the former head of the bank’s foreign exchange (FX) group who says the bank encouraged employees to “make false and misleading representations to customers, to engage in abusive sales practices, and to enrich themselves at the expense of clients.”
According to The Mercury News, whistleblower Simon Fowles alleges he voiced complaints about the unlawful and unethical practices to managers at the San Francisco-based banking giant for years but that his concerns essentially fell on deaf ears.
Mr. Fowles claims he warned high-level Wells Fargo executives about “significant risk of illegal activity, mail and wire fraud, unlawful profiteering, and regulatory violations he believed would result from the compensation plan used by Wells Fargo to compensate members of the FX sales team,” The Mercury News reported, citing the whistleblower’s lawyer.
Instead of taking action to correct the misconduct, Wells Fargo fired Mr. Fowles in retaliation for speaking out, the whistleblower complaint claims.
According to the lawsuit, Wells Fargo managers terminated Mr. Fowles after he warned bank managers that he planned to inform federal banking regulators of the alleged misconduct within the foreign exchange group. His firing came “just weeks before” his scheduled appointment with federal regulators, the complaint alleges.
Years of dubious business practices have put Wells Fargo on the defense against multiple whistleblower and consumer complaints.
Last year, multiple Wells Fargo employees filed whistleblower suits against the bank alleging it routinely engaged in mortgage fraud.
Federal regulators also fined the bank $185 million in the spring of 2016 for opening up 1.5 million deposit and credit accounts for customers without their knowledge or permission, then charging fees for the accounts.
In 2017, Wells Fargo paid $108 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging it hit veterans with unauthorized fees on mortgage refinance loans and then hid those fees from the government when it applied for federal loan guarantees.
Also last year, thousands of Wells Fargo auto loan customers filed a class action against the bank, accusing it of signing them up for unneeded car insurance policies without their consent