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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Timothy Sloan, Wells Fargo CEO and president, testifies before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017 1:00 am

Wells Fargo still isn't in lawmakers' good graces

KEN SWEET | Associated Press

NEW YORK – A different Wells Fargo chief executive met a similar kind of anger from Congress on Tuesday, with politicians saying they feel the bank has done little to change its culture.

Tim Sloan appeared in front of the Senate Banking Committee in Washington, D.C., about a year since his predecessor did the same to try to explain how employees trying to meet ambitious sales goals created millions of accounts without customers knowing about or authorizing them.

Sloan apologized again and said the bank was committed to its customers. Some lawmakers weren't in a forgiving mood. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., expressed anger about the sales practices as well as a later auto insurance scandal involving customers signed up for coverage they didn't want.

“We need to see a cultural change,” Heitkamp said. “I simply don't hear it. We hear you say, 'We don't know! We will look into it! We care about the consumer!' but I do not hear a level of cultural change that satisfies me today.”

Republicans were at times equally as upset.

“At least, we are irritated at Wells Fargo,” said Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina.

While Sloan said he remains “deeply sorry” for its previous sales practices, he was at times combative and defensive.

He strongly defended Wells Fargo's practice of sending customers into what's known as forced arbitration, which is when customers have to use a third party to resolve their disputes instead of filing a class-action lawsuit with others.