Wells Fargo & Co. is facing a Department of Justice investigation into whether employees in the company’s wholesale-banking unit improperly altered customer data, a person familiar with the matter said.
The changes were made to meet a regulatory deadline, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier Thursday.
“This particular situation involved a new process and a new required document called Certification of Beneficial Owners that our team members have to complete to help ensure we know our customers,” Alan Elias, a bank spokesman, said. “We’ve recognized that in certain circumstances additional training and new procedures were needed and have now been applied.”
Elias, who declined to comment on the Justice Department’s involvement, said customers weren’t negatively affected by the actions, but added that “we take all issues relative to documentation seriously. If we get something wrong, we fix it.”
Some workers added information to internal customer records without the clients’ knowledge, a person briefed on the situation said in May. The bank discovered the improper activity and reported it to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the person said.
Officials at the Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about the probe. Shares of the company dropped 1 percent after the report, bringing this year’s decline to 3.8 percent.
Wells Fargo has struggled to move past a wave of scandals, which led to a Federal Reserve ban on increasing assets until the lender fixes its missteps.
The problems began erupting in 2016, when regulators said the bank had opened millions of accounts without customers’ permission, leading to a public outcry and spurring additional scrutiny. Incorrect fees in the firm’s wealth-management unit and inconsistent pricing in the foreign-exchange business came next.
Just last month the bank disclosed another round of lapses, saying it faces a U.S. inquiry into its purchase of low-income housing credits and conceding it may have unnecessarily foreclosed on about 400 homeowners.