Wells Fargo & Co.’s most senior executives decided early this year to remove retail-banking chief Carrie Tolstedt from her post, months before she announced plans to retire and her division became the epicenter of a national scandal.
The behind-the-scenes deliberations were described in a letter the bank sent to U.S. lawmakers in September, according to a copy posted online this week by officials in California. It offers new details on what led up to her departure, and shows that Tim Sloan, who rose to chief executive officer in October, played a role in it.
Wells Fargo has faced political furor since regulators said the consumer branch network Tolstedt led since 2006 may have opened more than 2 million unauthorized accounts for customers, generating fees and damaging credit reports.
Some lawmakers took particular issue with a July press release, in which then-CEO John Stumpf, 63, lauded Tolstedt’s leadership while announcing she decided to retire at year-end. She relinquished her post that month.
But, privately, Stumpf had conferred early in the year with Sloan, 56, who became chief operating officer and Tolstedt’s boss last November.
After the conversation, Stumpf “decided that for various reasons the business would move in a different direction, meaning that Ms. Tolstedt would be removed,” the bank wrote. “After Ms. Tolstedt was told of the decision, she decided that she would retire.”