According to a report published last month, the federal agency responsible for monitoring and regulating the nation’s biggest banks failed to take appropriate steps in response to more than 700 Whistleblower complaints filed by employees of Wells Fargo. The whistleblower complaints were tied to a massive scheme whereby Wells Fargo employees opened accounts for the bank’s customers without the customers’ knowledge or consent. An investigation showed that upper level management had put pressure on branches and branch managers to engage in “cross-selling,” a practice where customers were pressured to buy additional products from the bank. Investigators say that many of the branches were evaluated in significant part by the number of accounts they had open with customers.
The OCC admitted that it had met with bank executives in 2010, and asked about the whistleblower complaints. Officials acknowledge, however, that the OCC did no follow up on the matter. The report also indicates that a number of Wells Fargo employees were wrongfully terminated after they asked questions or raised concerns about the practice, which ultimately led to the creation of more than two million bogus accounts.