Republican U.S. senator looking into Wells Fargo insurance scandal

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Senator Jerry Moran said on Thursday he is seeking additional information on recent revelations that Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N enrolled unknowing borrowers in costly auto insurance, putting more pressure on the bank whose reputation is already marred by previous sales practices.

At a hearing on insurance fraud, Moran, who chairs the insurance subcommittee that would be at the forefront of any congressional investigation into the issue, said his staff “is already in communication with Wells Fargo regarding these concerns, and I plan to follow up accordingly to gather additional information on the circumstances and what is being done to address these issues.”

Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House, which means Moran has more power to take action on the issue than the many Democrats who expressed outrage after news broke last Friday that Wells had charged 800,000 car loan borrowers for insurance without their knowledge or consent.

Ten months earlier Wells paid $190 million to settle charges it had signed customers up for phony accounts and pushed them into products they did not need, which led to dramatic congressional hearings and lawsuits.

Political leaders occasionally pay lip service to an issue and then move away from it, but Moran’s spokesman, Tom Brandt, said the senator “is taking this very seriously.”

Wells does not comment on specific interactions with lawmakers, but a spokeswoman said the bank “understands and is committed to addressing policymaker concerns.” She added that since it discovered the problems in the middle of 2016 Wells has taken steps such as refunding fees and discontinuing the insurance program to “make things right for our customers.”

Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Bernard Orr