Wells Fargo rehires workers pushed aside in accounts scandal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N Chief Executive Officer Tim Sloan apologized for a phony accounts scandal and said the U.S. bank had hired back nearly 2,000 workers who had quit or were fired, according to prepared congressional testimony.

A man walks by a bank machine at the Wells Fargo & Co. bank in downtown Denver, Colorado, U.S. April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

Wells Fargo employees created as many as 3.5 million checking, savings and other bank accounts without customers’ authorization for more than a decade before settling with regulators in September 2016. About 190,000 of the accounts incurred fees and charges, Sloan said.

About 5,300 employees were fired for taking part in the misconduct, the bank has said, but many more employees left or were pushed aside because they could not abide the culture.

Some employees were victims of the scandal, and they are welcome to return, Sloan said in remarks he planned to present to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday.

“The old sales goals and pressure failed our team members,” Sloan said. “I apologize for the damage done.”

Sloan said more customer abuses have been found.

“We expected to find more shortcomings through this effort, and we did,” he said in the remarks.

Car buyers may have been wrongly double-charged for insurance, while the phony accounts scandal involved more customers than first thought.

Sloan said more than 1,780 employees have been rehired since the $190 million settlement with regulators last year.

A follow-up investigation overseen by a Wells Fargo board committee said the company’s performance system was broken and “created pressure on employees to sell unwanted or unneeded products to customers and, in some cases, to open unauthorized accounts.”

Reporting by Patrick Rucker and Dan Freed; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe, Lisa Von Ahn and David Gregorio