At Wells Fargo, Bank Branches Were Tipped Off to Inspections

Managers and employees at the bank’s roughly 6,000 branches across the U.S. typically had at least 24 hours’ warning about inspections conducted by risk employees

As Wells Fargo has been under fire since September when it entered a $185 million settlement and enforcement action with regulators and a city official over opening as many as 2.1 million accounts using fictitious or unauthorized information. PHOTO: BEN MARGOT/ASSOCIATED PRESS

By Emily Glazer
Updated Jan. 24, 2017 11:30 a.m. ET

As Wells Fargo& Co.’s sales-tactics scandal unfolded, investors, regulators and politicians asked how improper practices could have persisted for so long. One possible reason: Bank branches were given a heads up before Wells Fargo’s internal monitors landed for inspections.

Managers and employees at the bank’s roughly 6,000 branches across the U.S. typically had at least 24 hours’ warning about annual reviews conducted by risk employees, current and former Wells Fargo employees and executives said. That gave many employees time to cover up improper practices, such as opening accounts or signing customers up for products without their knowledge.

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