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Wells Fargo Altered Documents Without Business Clients’ Knowledge: WSJ

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Wells Fargo branch. Photo: Daniel Tepper/Bloomberg Wells Fargo branch. Photo: Daniel Tepper/Bloomberg

Some employees in a Wells Fargo  & Co. unit that handles business banking improperly altered information on documents related to corporate customers, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

According to the Journal, the employees in Wells Fargo’s so-called wholesale unit added or altered information — including social security numbers, addresses and birth dates for people associated with business-banking clients — without customers’ knowledge.

The Journal reports that the behavior took place in 2017 and early 2018 as Wells Fargo was trying to meet a deadline to comply with a regulatory consent order related to the bank’s anti-money laundering controls. The employees were also working to get documents in order prior to new requirements from another regulator for disclosures related to proof of beneficial ownership of businesses, according to the Journal.

The Journal reports that Wells Fargo became aware of the behavior in recent months from employees, and, after investigating, the bank discovered the behavior wasn’t an isolated incident.

The bank is still investigating the matter, and has also reported the problem to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, one of its main federal regulators, according to the Journal. That agency is probing the problem, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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In a statement to ThinkAdvisor, a Wells Fargo spokesperson said the bank could not comment directly on regulatory matters.

The spokesperson did say in the statement that “this matter involves documents used for internal purposes. No customers were negatively impacted, no data left the company, and no products or services were sold as a result.”

According to the spokesperson, over the past several months Wells Fargo has built more robust internal processes that reinforce its values.

“[I]f we find any situations where behavior violates those values, we take swift action to correct,” according to the statement.

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