Today, in response to the announcement that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency will each impose a $500 million penalty against Wells Fargo for its auto insurance and mortgage lending abuses, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, made the following statement:
“Wells Fargo has a terrible track record of harming consumers and deserves every punishment they have received and more. Under the leadership of Richard Cordray, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau began the process of holding Wells Fargo accountable for secretly opening fraudulent accounts and now the Consumcer Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) have imposed additional fines on this financial institution for its egregious practices. However, the Consumer Bureau’s enforcement action does not mean that Mick Mulvaney, who was illegally appointed to serve as Acting Director, has turned over a new leaf and is now looking out for consumers. Far from it, Mr. Mulvaney has spent nearly five months working to undermine the Consumer Bureau from the inside. He has taken a series of actions to help out payday lenders, gutted the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, scaled back enforcement actions, and asked Congress to further weaken the Consumer Bureau.
“Furthermore, it is disappointing that the OCC is today loosening the restrictions they put on the bank in 2016, and has not taken the kinds of tougher supervisory actions I have longed called for, such as holding culpable executives accountable, or revoking the bank’s charter. I have been clear in the past that fines are not sufficient in addressing the pattern of illegal behavior by Wells Fargo, and this action still does not put the bank’s past behavior to rest. Steeper penalties are still necessary.”
In 2017, Ranking Member Waters introduced the Megabank Accountability and Consequences Act, which requires federal prudential banking regulators to fully utilize their authorities to shut down megabanks that repeatedly harm consumers and hold culpable executives accountable.
In 2017, Waters also released a Democratic staff report detailing a pattern of abusive business practices by Wells Fargo, as well as a Democratic staff report documenting the successes of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Director Cordray, including penalties imposed on the bank for secretly opening fraudulent accounts.