A former Wells Fargo advisor whose brother is suing the bank received private information about an estimated 50,000 clients and an undisclosed number of its registered representatives.
The news, reported by The New York Times late Friday includes clients’ names, Social Security numbers, assets under management, portfolio performance and related data. One of the clients is “a well-known hedge fund billionaire who had at least $23 million invested through Wells Fargo Advisors,” the paper said.
As for the advisors, the 1.4-gigabyte files contained details about their performance, compensation and clients. One advisor’s record, for instance, had the full list of clients and trailing-12-month commissions, which were $1.5 million.
“There are thousands of documents in here that the public should never see,” Sinderbrand told the paper, noting that the affected wealth-management clients have some “tens of billions of dollars invested through Wells Fargo.”
Privacy laws at both the state and federal level restrict the release of personal information to outside parties. In 2016, about 1.4 billion records were breached during close to 1,800 incidents, according to data compiled by Gemalto, a data-security tech firm.
The Wells Fargo documents seen by Sinderbrand were obtained via his attorney who received them from an attorney for Wells Fargo as part of a response to a subpoena in a defamation lawsuit the bank brought in New Jersey against one of his brothers, who works for Wells Fargo, according to the news report.
The private information tied the Wells Fargo clients and advisors was sent by Angela A. Turiano, a lawyer with Bressler, Amery & Ross, in Florham Park, N.J., to one of Sinderbrand’s attorneys, Aaron Zeisler.
“Obviously this was done in error and we would request that you return the CD asap so that it can be properly redacted,” Turiana said in an email to Sinderbrand. She also described the disclosures as “inadvertent,” the newspaper says.
A spokesperson for the bank said in a statement shared with The New York Times: “Wells Fargo takes the security and privacy of our customers’ information seriously. We are investigating this matter and will take the proper steps based on the outcome of our investigation.”
Sinderbrand, 61, worked as an advisor for Wells Fargo from 2008 to 2013, when he resigned. Last year, he and Wells Fargo settled certain compensation issues tied to his employment.
But the former advisor moved recently to sue the bank for violating a confidentiality clause in that agreement, according to the paper. The case is being heard by the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
Sindebrand has a lengthy FINRA BrokerCheck record, which includes nine compliance disclosures.
He was in the business for 31 years, after joining Merrill Lynch in 1980 and staying with the firm through 2002. He was later with UBS (2002-2008) before moving to Wells Fargo.
The largest disclosure on Sindebrand’s compliance record concerns Merrill’s agreement to pay $2.65 million to 19 family members in 1992 to avoid litigation tied to the sale of unsuitable securities.
According to BrokerCheck, his brother Steven has been an advisor for 26 years and has multiple disclosures tied to sales of structured and other products which UBS was ultimately found responsible for during the FINRA arbitration process.