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Wells Fargo regulatory woes continue in autos, forex: reports

A Wells Fargo branch is seen in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, U.S. February 10, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo

(Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) is facing fresh regulatory scrutiny in both its consumer and institutional businesses, according to reports in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on Friday, as the third-largest U.S. bank continues to work through a prolonged scandal over its sales practices.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) criticised Wells Fargo in a nonpublic regulatory report for enrolling borrowers in auto insurance policies they did not request, according to the Times. It said the bank may have underestimated costs related to reimbursing them.

Separately, regulators are looking into Wells' foreign exchange trading business over a matter that caused the departure of four employees, according to the Journal.

Until now, Wells' sales issues have been confined to its consumer-facing operations, where employees created as many as 3.5 million accounts in customers' names without their permission and enrolled borrowers in products they did not want. These ranged from auto insurance to mortgage rate locks.

News of the forex departures suggested the problems may extend further. The Journal said the four were fired as part of a review the bank is conducting across all of its businesses.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Elise Wilkinson confirmed that employees named in the story – Simon Fowles, Bob Gotelli, Jed Guenther and Michael Schauffler – are no longer with the bank, but declined to comment further.

Wells is trying to help any customers who were wrongly charged for car insurance, bank spokeswoman Catherine Pulley said.

OCC spokeswoman Stephanie Collins said the agency does not comment on individual banks or ongoing supervision.


(Reporting by Dan Freed in New York, Patrick Rucker in Washington and Nikhil Subba and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Lauren LaCapra and Cynthia Osterman)