How regulators, Republicans and big banks fought for a big increase in lucrative but risky corporate loans

April 6, 2019 | Washington Post Actions by federal regulators and Republicans in Congress over the past two years have paved the way for banks and other financial companies to issue more than $1 trillion in risky corporate loans, sparking fears that Washington and Wall Street are repeating the mistakes made before the financial crisis.

The moves undercut policies put in place by banking regulators six years ago that aimed to prevent high-risk lending from once again damaging the economy. Read more here.

Wells Fargo Fined $185 Million for Fraudulently Opening Accounts

The New York Times | September 8, 2016         For years, Wells Fargo employees secretly issued credit cards without a customer’s consent. They created fake email accounts to sign up customers for online banking services. They set up sham accounts that customers learned about only after they started accumulating fees.

On Thursday, these illegal banking practices cost Wells Fargo $185 million in fines, including a $100 million penalty from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the largest such penalty the agency has issued.

Federal banking regulators said the practices, which date back to 2011, reflected serious flaws in the internal culture and oversight at Wells Fargo, one of the nation’s largest banks. The bank has fired at least 5,300 employees who were involved.

In all, Wells Fargo employees opened roughly 1.5 million bank accounts and applied for 565,000 credit cards that may not have been authorized by customers, the regulators said in a news conference. The bank has 40 million retail customers.

Some customers noticed the deception when they were charged unexpected fees, received credit or debit cards in the mail that they did not request, or started hearing from debt collectors about accounts they did not recognize. But most of the sham accounts went unnoticed, as employees would routinely close them shortly after opening them. Wells has agreed to refund about $2.6 million in fees that may have been inappropriately charged.  Read more here.

Wells Fargo to Pay $1.2 Billion in Mortgage Settlement

The New York Times | February 3, 2016    Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $1.2 billion to put to rest claims that it engaged in reckless lending under a Federal Housing Administration program that left a government insurance fund to clean up the mess.

The bank, which is the nation’s largest mortgage lender, has been in talks with the government since 2012 over accusations that it improperly classified some F.H.A. loans as qualifying for federal insurance when they did not, and that it knew of the misclassification but failed to inform housing regulators about the deficiencies before filing insurance claims.

Wells Fargo, based in San Francisco, had been a holdout among large lenders. Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase all previously settled similar claims.  The settlement means Wells Fargo has to reduce 2015 profit by $134 million to account for the extra legal expense.  Read more here.