Between 2012-2015, regulators extracted $10.4 billion in total misconduct penalties from the bank.
Wells Fargo agreed in 2016 to pay $185 million to settle investigations by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and Los Angeles City Atty. The $100 million settlement with the CFPB was a record for the agency, but the bank would soon shatter even that.
In 2018 Wells Fargo was fined $1 billion by the CFPB and the OCC ($500 million each) to punish the bank for disregarding its own advertising promise to lock in interest rates on mortgages, as well as coercing consumers to pay for insurance on top of their auto loans that they did not need.
In 2016 the OCC significantly downgraded the bank’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rating – a first – citing “the extent and egregious nature of the evidence of discriminatory and illegal credit practices” and over 10 regulatory orders or settlements related to discriminatory or illegal practices.
In 2018 the Federal Reserve imposed an unprecedented sanction, forbidding the bank from increasing total assets beyond the 2017 level until it addresses lapses to the regulator’s satisfaction. “We cannot tolerate pervasive and persistent misconduct at any bank” stated the Fed chair.
“The bank is lucky it is too big to shut down,” said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “A smaller bank might have lost its banking licenses.”