U.S. probes Wells Fargo's retention of employee communications

The sign outside the Wells Fargo & Co. bank in downtown Denver
The sign outside the Wells Fargo & Co. bank in downtown Denver April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo/File Photo

Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are investigating Wells Fargo & Co's (WFC.N) retention of employee communications over "unapproved" messaging tools, the bank said on Tuesday, the latest in a crackdown that has already sparked billions of dollars in fines.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission have undertaken the probes, the fourth-largest U.S. bank disclosed in a filing.

The scrutiny highlights the challenges Wall Street institutions have faced in tracking staff communications in the work-from-home pandemic era, particularly over personal devices and apps like WhatsApp.

Most have now adopted hybrid-work models, which allow employees to divide their time between office and remote arrangements.

In September, the SEC fined 16 financial firms, including major global banks, a combined $1.8 billion after staff discussed deals and trades on their personal devices and apps.

Earlier this month, France's third biggest bank Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) was also drawn into a probe by the U.S. securities regulator on whether its staff had used unauthorized messaging platforms.

Reporting by Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru Editing by Chris Reese

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