Hundreds of Wells Fargo whistleblower complaints went unheeded by a federal banking regulator years before the bank's fake account scandal surfaced, according to an internal review published on Wednesday by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
The report, published on Wednesday by the OCC, found that the regulator overseeing Wells Fargo was "untimely and ineffective" in addressing problems that led to the creation of some 2 million fake Wells Fargo accounts, CNN Money reported.
The regulator said bank examiners were aware of about 700 whistleblower complaints related to the bank's sales incentives as early as January 2010.
Wells Fargo was hit with $185 million in penalties in September 2016 for opening 2 million unauthorized bank accounts without approval from customers, USA Today noted.
CNN Money noted that unrealistic sales goals put in place by senior management led to the scandal. Employees were asked to open up as many as eight accounts per customer.
Bank leaders were allegedly aware of ethics complaints and firings related to the company's sales tactics as early as 2004.
"We made a number of mistakes, there’s no question about it," Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said this week, according to CNN. "We had an incentive compensation plan that drove inappropriate behavior."
Sloan added that his focus now is "fixing what was broken" and "making things right."
When hundreds of whistleblowers and their complaints became knowledge in 2010, Carrie Tolstedt, the former leader of community banking, gave an explanation for the large number of complaints, according to Fortune.
"The primary reason for the high number of complaints is that the culture encourages valid complaints which are then investigated and appropriately addressed," Tolstedt said.
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