Wells Fargo hit with additional charges for abusive sales practices

Three years after the SEC’s hefty fine of Wells Fargo, repercussions are still being felt as, once again, the regulator holds individuals to account as well as organizations.

In 2020 the SEC charged Wells Fargo with misleading investors about the success of one of its largest and prominent business units, handing them a $500 million fine. Shortly after, in November of 2020, the SEC announced additional charges to a Wells Fargo executive for their specific role in the SEC’s findings.

In an interesting turn of events, the SEC issued another press release last month (three years later) announcing they have reached a settlement with another Senior Executive from Wells Fargo for her own involvement in deceiving Wells Fargo’s clients. Unfortunately for Wells Fargo, this case does not seem to want to go away.

This case presents an interesting example of the SEC not only going after an organization for misconduct, but also targeting specific individuals internally who were deemed responsible for the wrongdoing. And more than just barring them from the industry, they are hitting them with heavy fines. Monique C Winkler, Regional Director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office stated in the article that “companies do not act on their own. Where the facts warrant it, we will hold senior executives accountable for conduct that violates the securities law.”

This case is a good reminder of the personal responsibility of ensuring your organization is functioning appropriately. It can be easy to internally absolve personal responsibility, particularly at large organizations.

Examples like these reveal that this is not always the case.

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