Former Wells Fargo Executives May Face Criminal Charges In Coming Weeks, Sources Say

A number of former high-level business executives at Wells Fargo might soon be indicted in the upcoming weeks after being the subject of a criminal investigation, reports The American Banker. The charges would stem from their involvement in the bank's fake account scandal, in which millions of fraudulent savings and checking accounts were created for Wells Fargo clients without their knowledge or consent.

The scam became a huge scandal for the company, and thousands of low-level employees were fired. In addition, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $185 million in fines to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Los Angeles City Attorney's office as penance for creating the unauthorized accounts.

A source with knowledge of the situation claimed that this new investigation finally targeted high-level employees, particularly those located in the San Francisco area. The source added that though the situation may change, it is currently shaping up to result in the most high-profile criminal charges in the financial sector since the 2008 financial crisis.

The source added that the charges that will likely be filed by prosecutors include making false or misleading statements to investors and conspiracy to obstruct the examination of a financial institution.

police by wells fargo
Getty Images | Spencer Platt

The federal investigation stemmed from a 2013 internal inspection that focused on employee misconduct in the Los Angeles region.

"In 2013, Wells Fargo conducted its first data analysis intended to identify bankers who were opening accounts in which money was initially deposited, but then removed and no further account activity occurred," Wells Fargo claimed. The statements were made at a hearing called after the incident became public in 2016.

"This analysis was conducted out of concern that bankers might be trying to manipulate the sales-integrity metrics — particularly the rate of accounts funded within the first 30 days, by 'simulating' funding of the accounts through transfers of funds," it concluded.

Meanwhile, as prosecutors debate about leveling charges at the former executives, Wells Fargo itself has been attempting to resolve all matters that remain under investigation by the Justice Department and the SEC.

The timing of the charges will likely only fan the flames of growing unrest over income inequality. Rallying against Wall Street has become a consistent talking point from many Democratic presidential candidates such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

In a similar populist vein, Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently declared that the wealthy -- including himself -- should be paying more in taxes, as was previously covered by The Inquisitr.