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Wells Fargo investigating alleged expense violations

Latest misconduct follows two years of lawsuits, fines

FILE PHOTO: A man walks by an ATM at the Wells Fargo & Co. bank in downtown Denver, U.S., April 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A man walks by an ATM at the Wells Fargo & Co. bank in downtown Denver, U.S., April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

Wells Fargo is investigating employees in its investment bank for alleged violations of its expense policy after they tried to get the company to pay for ineligible evening meals.

The lender already has fired or suspended more than a dozen staff members for allegedly doctoring receipts to allow them to expense the meals, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter it didn’t identify.

The latest revelation of misconduct at Wells Fargo comes as the San Francisco-based bank tries to overhaul its internal culture after two years of lawsuits, investigations and fines that have taken a toll on the firm’s reputation, business and relations with regulators.

Scandals began erupting in 2016 when regulators said the bank had opened millions of accounts without customers’ permission.

CEO Tim Sloan has said the company is committed to making the changes necessary to shore up operational and compliance risk. Earlier this year, Wells Fargo launched an ad campaign, “Re-Established,” with the aim of assuring the public that it’s committed to fixing its problems and righting the ship.

Wells Fargo has been dealing with a Federal Reserve-imposed growth ban requiring it to clean up its act to the regulator’s satisfaction before the bank can increase assets beyond their end-of-2017 level.

Since the order — Janet Yellen’s final act as the Fed’s chairwoman — took effect, the list of the bank’s lapses has grown to include unnecessary foreclosures and a U.S. inquiry into its purchase of low-income housing tax credits.

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