The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has slapped former Wells Fargo & Co. general counsel James Strother with a $3.5 million penalty for his alleged role in the bank’s phony checking and savings account scandal.
Strother agreed to pay the civil money penalty to the U.S. Treasury as part of a settlement that also includes a personal cease-and-desist order. The order requires Strother to cooperate with the OCC in any investigation, litigation or administrative proceeding related to Wells Fargo’s alleged sales practices misconduct.
Strother’s attorney, Walt Brown of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, stated previously that the allegations against his client were “false and unfounded, and he intends to vigorously defend against them.”
Brown stated Friday in an email, “Jim Strother is an honorable man who dedicated over 30 years in the service of Wells Fargo. He retired in 2017, and is pleased to put this matter behind him.”
In response to a request for comment on Strother’s settlement, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman provided a January 2020 statement in which the bank described the misconduct in question as “inexcusable.”
The OCC, which initially sought a $5 million penalty from Storther, declined to discuss the negotiated settlement.
The OCC alleged in a charging document that Strother admitted in sworn testimony that the bank had a “systemic sales practices misconduct problem rooted in the community bank’s business model,” referring to Wells Fargo’s retail branch network, its largest line of business.