Wells Fargo & Co. agreed to pay $3 billion to resolve criminal and civil probes into fraudulent sales practices and has admitted to pressuring employees in a fake-accounts scandal, U.S. officials said Friday, wrapping up one of the last major investigations looming over the bank.
Wells Fargo will pay the penalties to the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission and enter into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement during which the San Francisco-based bank will continue to cooperate with any ongoing government investigations, Justice Department officials said.
As part of the deal, Wells Fargo admitted that between 2002 and 2016 it pressured employees to meet "unrealistic sales goals that led thousands of employees to provide millions of accounts or products to customers under false pretenses or without consent, often by creating false records or misusing customers' identities," the department said in a statement.
In a statement, Charles Scharf, Wells Fargo's new chief executive, described the past conduct as "reprehensible." Wells Fargo is the fourth-largest U.S. lender.
Top managers within Wells Fargo's Community Bank division were aware of the "unlawful and unethical" practices as early as 2002, and many of the practices were referred to as "gaming" within the bank, the Justice Department said.
"We are committing all necessary resources to ensure that nothing like this happens again, while also driving Wells Fargo forward," Scharf said