Today Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), member of the Senate Banking Committee, joined every Democrat on the Committee in asking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) for a September hearing with Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan and Board of Directors Chair Stephen Sanger, to receive testimony about new developments in the bank’s fake-accounts scandal and related matters.
In a letter to Chairman Crapo, Van Hollen and Senate Banking Committee Democrats noted a series of significant developments related to the bank’s misconduct that have emerged in the ten months since former Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf testified before the committee. This includes information suggesting that more customers than previously thought were affected by the fake accounts scam; that the bank signed up customers for insurance products and applied fees without authorization; and that the bank may have retaliated against employees.
The senators wrote, “Many Committee members have sought additional information from Wells Fargo about these developments, with varying degrees of success. A hearing would give members the opportunity to hear directly from the bank’s top leadership about these developments.” The Democratic Committee members explained that a hearing would provide a chance to question bank leaders about Wells Fargo’s efforts to compensate customers harmed in the fake-accounts scandal, and about recent revelations that the bank may have charged nearly a million customers for auto insurance they did not need.
The letter also noted that a hearing would offer insight into the ongoing debate in Congress over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) new forced arbitration rule. Republicans have said that the CFPB rule could harm consumers. Wells Fargo has reportedly used forced arbitration clauses to prevent customers from suing in court for damages arising from the creation of fake accounts in their names. The senators wrote that a hearing would allow the Committee to obtain more information about this prominent use of forced arbitration clauses.
In addition to Senator Van Hollen, the letter was signed by the following Senators: Banking Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jon Tester (D-Mt.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).