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Warren asks if reports show Wells Fargo punished fired workers

US Senator Elizabeth Warren of  of Massachusetts sent a letter to Wells Fargo’s chief executive seeking answers regarding regulatory compliance and possible retaliation against employees.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren of of Massachusetts sent a letter to Wells Fargo’s chief executive seeking answers regarding regulatory compliance and possible retaliation against employees.

In Elizabeth Warren’s latest attack on Wells Fargo & Co., she and Senate colleagues are questioning whether the bank filed misleading disclosures on terminated employees, and if it did so as retaliation for complaints about its aggressive sales tactics.

In a letter Thursday to Wells Fargo chief executive officer Tim Sloan, the Massachusetts lawmaker and two other Democrats asked whether the bank filed inaccurate reports to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Brokerages, including units of banks, that are registered with the authority must file paperwork with it when they terminate employees.

“Currently available information suggests that the bank may have filed defamatory statements to retaliate against employees who questioned aggressive cross-selling practices, and that those negative statements often dealt serious blows to the employees’ careers,” the senators wrote. “If Wells Fargo submitted false or incomplete information about the fired employees in its mandatory disclosures to Finra, the bank may have violated Finra rules and misled regulators about the scope of the fraud.”

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Warren has been on a tirade against Wells Fargo since regulators announced in September that the bank would pay $185 million to settle allegations that it may have opened more than two million accounts without customers’ authorization. She has urged agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, to investigate whether the San Francisco-based bank might have punished workers who had complained that employees were cutting corners to meet unattainable sales goals.

“We have a zero tolerance for retaliation against team members, and we have a firm nonretaliation policy,” Wells Fargo spokeswoman Jennifer Dunn said in an e-mail.