Timeline of the Wells Fargo Accounts Scandal

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Wells Fargo is embroiled in a scandal over assertions that bank employees opened accounts without customers' authorization.

Here's a timeline of key events since the allegations came to light:

Sept. 8, 2016

The alleged misconduct was revealed when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Los Angeles City Attorney and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) fined the bank $185 million, alleging that more than 2 million bank accounts or credit cards were opened or applied for without customers' knowledge or permission between May 2011 and July 2015.

A bank official acknowledged that it had terminated some 5,300 employees, roughly 1 percent of the workforce, in relation to the allegations, and the bank issued a statement saying, "We regret and take responsibility for any instances where customers may have received a product that they did not request." Read our story from the time, or see how the scandal affects customers.

Sept. 13, 2016

The bank announced that it would be ending its controversial employee sales goals program that was at the center of the allegations effective Jan. 1, 2017.

According to the Los Angeles City Attorney, employees were opening and funding accounts without customers' permission or knowledge in order to "satisfy sales goals and earn financial rewards under the bank's incentive-compensation program."

The CFPB said the bank imposed the goals on its staff because it "sought to distinguish itself in the marketplace as a leader in 'cross-selling' banking products and services to its existing customers." Read our story from the time.

The same day, Stumpf appeared on CNBC, where he rebuffed suggestions that he resign. "I think the best thing I could do right now is lead this company, and lead this company forward," he said.

Sept. 14, 2016

It was announced that the FBI and federal prosecutors in New York and California were probing the bank over the alleged misconduct, a development that opened the possibility of criminal charges.

Read our story from the time.

Sept. 16, 2016

The House of Representative's Financial Services Committee opened an investigation into the bank's alleged misconduct as well as "the role of Washington regulators in monitoring and investigating" the alleged misconduct.

A letter sent to the bank's general counsel asked him to make four senior executives available for transcribed interviews, including Carrie Tolstedt. Tolstedt, who government filings say is in her mid-50s, was the head of Wells Fargo's community banking division -- which oversees the banks most consumers are familiar with -- until her retirement was announced in July.

The CFPB and OCC did not comment.

Read our story from the time.

The same day, three Utah residents filed what is believed to be the first class-action lawsuit brought by customers against Wells Fargo over the allegations. Wells Fargo declined to comment on the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Utah.

Read our story from the time.

Sept. 20, 2016

Stumpf appeared in front of the Senate Banking Committee, where Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, called on him to resign and said he should face criminal charges.

Republicans chided the embattled CEO as well, with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, saying Stumpf would be engaging in "malpractice" if the bank didn't "claw back" money that it had paid to executives during the period that the accounts were being opened without customers' permission.

Read our story from the time.

Sept. 22, 2016

A group of Senate Democrats asked the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to open an investigation into whether Wells Fargo violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In response to the senators' request to the DOL, Wells Fargo spokeswoman Jennifer G. Dunn told ABC News today that "our team members are our greatest asset."

"We strive to make every one of them feel valued, rewarded and recognized and we pride ourselves on creating a positive environment for our team members, including market-competitive compensation, career-development opportunities, a broad array of benefits and a strong offering of work-life programs," Dunn added.

The DOL acknowledged receipt of the letter and a spokesman, Jason Surbey, said, "while we cannot discuss details of potential law enforcement decision-making, we do take the concerns raised in the letter very seriously."

Separately, Stumpf resigned from his position on the Federal Advisory Council, which meets with the Federal Reserve four times a year to advise it on banking and economic issues, effective today. The San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank confirmed the move to ABC News.

Read our story from the time.

Sept. 23, 2016

In a letter shared with ABC News, six senators slammed Wells Fargo bank for its use of forced arbitration clauses in its customer account agreements, which the senators said enabled the company to keep its accounts scandal out of the public eye and the courts for years, and asked embattled CEO John Stumpf to provide information so that they can "better understand the situation at Wells Fargo" and "prevent similar fraudulent practices in the future."

Arbitration, mandated in some if not all basic agreements that customers sign when they open accounts at the bank, "helps hide fraudulent schemes such as the sham accounts at Wells Fargo from the justice system, from the news media, and from the public eye," the senators wrote.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman told ABC News at the time: "We are reviewing the letter and will respond to the senators who requested this information but have no further comment at this time."

Read our story from the time.

Sept. 26, 2016

Two former Wells Fargo employees filed a lawsuit against the bank related to the accounts scandal. The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for the lawsuit.

The suit, filed on Sept. 22 in California Superior Court by former employees Alexander Polonsky and Brian Zaghi, seeks to represent employees or former employees who worked for the bank during the last 10 years and who, the suit alleges, were "either demoted, forced to resign, or terminated," for not meeting "impossible" quotas the bank set as goals for employees to open accounts on behalf of customers.

Wells Fargo officials said at the time that they "disagree with the allegations in the complaint and will vigorously defend against the misrepresentations it contains about Wells Fargo and all of the Wells Fargo team members whose careers have been built on doing the right thing by our customers every day."

"Wells Fargo works hard to foster a culture that is centered on doing what is right for our customers and exhibiting high ethical standards and integrity, and the vast majority of our team members serve our customers' best interests every day in every interaction," the statement added.

Read our story from the time.

Sept. 27, 2016

The bank's independent directors announced that Stumpf will forgo $41 million worth of promised compensation as well as his usual salary as they launch an independent investigation.

The announcement came two days before Stumpf was set to testify at a House hearing over the accounts scandal.

The directors also announced that Tolstedt had left the company. She was slated to leave at "year's end," according to a retirement announcement.

Tolstedt, who has been the subject of scrutiny in recent weeks, will not receive a bonus for the year and will not receive severance pay, the directors said in a statement. Similar to Stumpf, she will forgo promised share compensation worth about $19 million.

Stumpf, who has been CEO since 2007, will also not receive a bonus, the statement said.

Separately, in remarks prepared for Stumpf's appearance before the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday, which were obtained and reviewed by ABC, the CEO is expected to say that the bank is moving up the date it will end its controversial sales program from Jan. 1, 2017 to Oct. 1, 2016.

Read our story.

Sept. 29, 2016

Just over a week after facing blistering questions in front of a Senate panel, Stumpf went back to Capitol Hill, where he received verbal lashings and further calls to resign from members of the House Financial Services Committee over the scandal.

The hearing lasted for more than four brutal hours, with Republicans and Democrats lambasting Stumpf.

The committee chairman, Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, opened by saying: "Fraud is fraud. Theft is theft. And what happened at Wells Fargo over the course of many years cannot be described any other way."

Read our story.

Oct. 3, 2016

The scandal bled into the election, with Hillary Clinton slamming the company during a campaign stop in Toledo, Ohio.

Holding up the bank's accounts scandal as an example of "egregious corporate behavior," the Democratic presidential nominee pledged to strengthen consumer protections and further scrutinize corporate America if elected.

"Look at Wells Fargo," she said as the crowd booed. "Really shocking, isn't it? It is outrageous that eight years after a cowboy culture on Wall Street wrecked our economy, we are still seeing powerful bankers playing fast and loose with the law."

Read our story.

Oct. 5, 2016

Fourteen senators sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging the Justice Department to "thoroughly investigate the culpability of senior executives" at Wells Fargo, as ABC News first reported.

The letter suggests that the investigation of senior executives is needed in order to reassure Americans that wealthy corporate leaders can not "purchase a higher class of justice for themselves."

"Following the 2008 financial crisis, the American people watched as senior executives repeatedly escaped accountability for actions that nearly brought down the global economy," the letter reads. "No top Wall Street executives went to prison or even faced prosecution."

The senators added: "Instead, the government regularly settled for a penalty that was borne by the bank's shareholders, not its executives."

Read about the letter, which was reported by ABC News first.

Oct. 12, 2016

Shortly after markets closed, word came that Stumpf was out. The bank said he would retire as CEO and Chairman effective immediately.

Tim Sloan, an employee of the company for 29 years, took his spot as CEO and Stephen Sanger took over as board chairman.

In the same statement announcing Stumpf's retirment, Sloan was quoted as saying that his "immediate and highest priority is to restore trust in Wells Fargo."

A company official and a source familiar with the the matter told ABC News that outgoing CEO wouldn't receive a severance package. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Stumpf would have access to retirement benefits after six months. The source couldn't detail those benefits at the time.

Read our story from the time.

Oct. 19, 2016

California Attorney General Kamala Harris launched a criminal investigation into whether Wells Fargo employees committed false impersonation and identity theft as part of the accounts scandal.

Documents shared with ABC News included a search warrant requesting, among other things, documents and data related to bank products and services "that have been identified as being created or issued for the customer without the customer's consent," from May 2011 to July 2015.

According to the warrant, investigators are also requesting the the names and other identifying information for employees and managers who may have opened or authorized the opening of accounts allegedly without customers' permission.

Asked about the California investigation, a Wells Fargo spokesman said that the bank was cooperating by providing the requested information.

Read our story from the time.

Oct. 24, 2016

Wells Fargo began running television advertisements, to complement an ad campaign running in other media, in an effort to restore trust in its brand. The ads featured its signature horse-drawn carriage motif and pledges to address customer concerns.

A company spokesman said that more ads would be introduced in the coming weeks.

Read our story from the time.

November 3, 2016

The bank disclosed in regulatory filings that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was investigating its sales practices.

In its standard filings made with the SEC, the bank detailed all of the regulatory and law enforcement agencies that had their eyes on its practices.

The bank said that "formal and informal inquiries, investigations or examinations" were being undertaken by agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice, congressional committees, the SEC, California state prosecutors and attorneys general.

The bank said in the filings that it had "responded, and continues to respond, to requests from a number of the foregoing seeking information regarding these sales practices."

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