U.S. prosecutors investigate Wells Fargo's sales practices - source

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors have begun an investigation related to sales practices at Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N that led the bank to agree to a $190 million settlement with regulators, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The logo on a Wells Fargo bank building is seen in downtown San Diego, California March 18, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Manhattan and San Francisco are investigating Wells Fargo, the person said, following a settlement announced on Sept. 8 over claims that some customers were pushed into fee-generating accounts they never requested.

Wells Fargo declined to comment on Wednesday. A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan also declined to comment.

“We don’t comment on the existence or non-existence of any investigation,” said Abraham Simmons, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco.

The investigation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The federal prosecutors’ probes add a new headache for the company, which has been hit hard by allegations that its staff opened more than two million bank accounts and credit cards for customers without their consent to meet internal sales goals.

As part of last week’s settlement, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $185 million in penalties and $5 million to customers. Wells Fargo also said that it had fired 5,300 employees over the sales conduct.

That settlement was with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney.

The bank neither admitted nor denied the allegations as part of the settlement.

On Tuesday, Chief Executive John Stumpf apologized and said the management takes responsibility for the problems identified in the settlement.

Although the bank eliminated sales goals for retail staff, Stumpf said “cross-selling” products from various businesses to customers is still important to expand its business.

(This version of the story has been refiled to correct second paragraph to make clear U.S. Attorneys’ Offices are plural)

Reporting by Anet Josline Pinto in Bengaluru and Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Don Sebastian and Grant McCool