Wells Fargo Bankers Overcharged Hundreds In Latest Scandal

Wells Fargo bankers chasing bonuses charged hundreds of clients inflated foreign transaction fees, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The report comes just over a year since Wells Fargo paid a $185 million fine for “widespread illegal” sales practices involving fees on 2 million deposit and credit-card accounts opened without customers’ knowledge.

An internal Wells Fargo review in the latest breach showed that only 35 business clients out of about 300 were charged the actual price they had been quoted by Wells Fargo bankers for their currency trades, two employees told The Journal. They heard the conclusions of the bank investigation in a conference call in June, the paper said.

Sources told the newspaper that four foreign-exchange bankers have been fired and federal investigators have opened their own inquiry.

Foreign-exchange bankers were paid bonuses based only on the revenue they brought to Wells Fargo, which is different from major banks in the rest of the industry, according to the Journal. The bank told the newspaper that it began changing the bonus structure earlier this year.

The Wells Fargo investigation was part of the bank’s reforms in the wake of the fake account scandal. CEO John Stumpf retired last year after the scandal blew up, but he left with a $133 million pay package, Fortune reported.

The news comes amid an upheaval at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which President Donald Trump is attempting now to control with a hand-picked acting director. The CFPB was launched in 2010 by the Dodd-Frank Act to protect consumers in the wake of banks’ subprime mortgage debacle and subsequent economic meltdown. It was the CFPB that levied $100 million of the fine against Wells Fargo for the unauthorized bank accounts.

Republicans have long complained that the CFPB is too hard on the financial industry. Now Trump has named his White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney, as the interim head of the bureau after Director Richard Cordray stepped down last week. Cordray had named Deputy Director Leandra English as interim head. English filed a lawsuit Sunday in a bid to block Mulvaney from taking over.

Wells Fargo told the Journal in a statement that it “remains committed” to its foreign exchange operation, which is now under “new management.” If “there’s a problem, we fix it,” the bank said.

The Journal said Wells Fargo charged some of the highest foreign transaction fees in the business, two to eight times higher than industry standards, according to sources. Wells denied that.