Wells Fargo to pay $1B for mortgage, auto lending abuses


NEW YORK (AP) — Wells Fargo will pay $1 billion to federal regulators to settle charges tied to its mortgage and auto lending business, the latest chapter in years-long, wide-ranging scandal at the banking giant.

It appears, however, that none of the $1 billion will go directly to the victims of Wells Fargo's abuses.

In a settlement announced today, Wells will pay $500 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, its main national bank regulator, as well as a net $500 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The action by the CFPB is notable because it is the first penalty imposed by the bureau under Mick Mulvaney, who President Trump appointed to take over the consumer watchdog agency in late November. The $500 million is also the largest penalty imposed by the CFPB in its history, the previous being a $100 million penalty also against Wells Fargo, and matches the largest fine ever handed out by the Comptroller of the Currency, which fined HSBC $500 million in 2012.

In a statement, the OCC said it imposed such a large fine against Wells "given the severity of the deficiencies and violations of law, the financial harm to consumers, and the bank's failure to correct the deficiencies and violations in a timely manner."

The fine against San Francisco-based Wells Fargo had been expected. The company disclosed last week that it was in discussions with federal authorities over a possible settlement related to its mortgage and auto lending businesses, and that the fine could be as much as $1 billion.

The settlement also contains other requirements that would restrict Wells Fargo's business. The bank will need to come with a risk management plan to be approved by bank regulators, and get approval from bank regulators before hiring senior employees.

The $500 million paid to the Comptroller of the Currency will be paid directly to the U.S. Treasury, according to the order. The $500 million paid to the CFPB will go into the CFPB's civil penalties fund, which is used to help consumers who might have been impacted in other cases. But zero dollars of either penalty is going directly to Wells Fargo's victims.

The bank has already been reimbursing customers in its auto and mortgage businesses for these abuses. Wells Fargo has been refunding auto loan customers since July and been mailing refund checks to impacted mortgage customers since December.

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