| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Dec 9 A private U.S. regulator
launched a hotline on Friday to hear from ex-Wells Fargo & Co
employees who were fired for allegedly opening
unauthorized accounts after news reports that the bank may have
retaliated by terminating whistleblowers in the scandal.
Federal regulators ordered the San Francisco-based bank to
pay $190 million in fines and restitution in September because
they said its high pressure sales environment pushed employees
to open 2 million deposit and credit card accounts without
The bank said that it fired 5,300 workers involved in the
sales scandal. Because about 200 of those employees were
licensed to sell securities, they fall under the jurisdiction of
the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the
securities industry's self-regulator.
A handful of Wells Fargo employees have sued the bank or
filed complaints with regulators saying that they were fired
only after they reported on the bogus accounts.
In a letter last month to Wells Fargo Chief Executive
Officer Tim Sloan, Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren, Ron
Wyden and Robert Menendez said that evidence they received from
FINRA showed that the bank may have filed defamatory statements
to retaliate against the employees for questioning the sales
Financial firms are required to notify FINRA when they
terminate securities brokers and to describe why the employee
The descriptions in the documents can have sweeping impacts
on a worker's ability to get hired elsewhere, and employees are
supposed to be able to review the document before it is
submitted to FINRA.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; additional reporting by Dan
Freed; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)