Wells Fargo CEO forfeits $41 million as company launches probe

April AlvarezOct 09, 2016

Wells Fargo's Board of Directors on Tuesday said it's launching an investigation into the company's sales practices. The bank could claw back $19 million from Toldsted, the department said.

He was hauled over the coals by the Senate's equivalent body last week.

The compensation and investigation announcement comes as Wells Fargo attempts to recover from a scandal that kicked off on September 8, when regulators alleged that employees opened or applied for accounts without customers' knowledge or permission.

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"We are deeply concerned by these matters, and we are committed to ensuring that all aspects of the company's business are conducted with integrity, transparency and oversight", the board's lead independent director Stephen Sanger said in a statement. It adds that a special committee of independent directors will lead the investigation into the scandal.

Six former Wells Fargo employees filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against the bank claiming they were demoted or fired when they refused to participate in the bank's illegal practices of opening fake accounts. Stumpf, who has been CEO since 2007, will also not receive a bonus, the statement said. "We have worked, and are continuing to work, diligently ... to improve and evolve our incentive-based compensation practices", Hope Hardison, Wells Fargo's director of human resources, said in a letter to regulators.

Tolstedt departed in July with $124.6 million in stock and options.

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Federal and local authorities said Wells Fargo & Co. employees trying to meet those targets opened bank and credit card accounts, moved money between those accounts and even created fake email addresses to sign customers up for online banking - all without customer authorization.

More than 5,300 Wells Fargo workers were fired for the scam, but no executives have been reprimanded. During the company's investigation, Stumpf will work for free and Tolstedt also agreed not to cash in on any of her outstanding stock options. New York City pension funds own nearly $500 million in Wells Fargo stock.

Wells Fargo, whose biggest shareholder is billionaire Warren Buffett, has 40 million accounts held by individuals across the United States. Based on the results of the investigation, the Independent Members of the Board will take such other actions as they collectively deem appropriate, which may include further compensation actions before any additional equity awards vest or bonus decisions are made early next year, clawbacks of compensation already paid out, and other employment-related actions.

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The announcement comes ahead of Mr Stump's appearance before the House Financial Services Committee, scheduled for Thursday, where he is expected to face another tough questioning similar to his appearance before the Senate Banking Committee last week.

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