Wells Fargo under criminal investigation for hiring practices, source says

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Manhattan federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into Wells Fargo to determine whether the nation’s third-largest bank’s hiring practices violate the law, a source briefed on the investigation confirmed to ABC News.

The criminal investigation follows a report last month in The New York Times, in which current and former employees said their superiors told them to interview women and people of color even though the hiring decision had already been made.

The allegation is similar to that of Brian Flores and other black football coaches who have accused the NFL of conducting mock interviews to meet diversity requirements with no intention of hiring a person of color. The NFL has defended its hiring practices.

The investigation into Wells Fargo is in its early stages and no charging decision has been made, the source said, adding that the investigation is being led by a newly created civil rights unit within the office.

A spokesperson for Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, declined to comment.

The New York Times based its story, in part, on former Wells Fargo employee Joe Bruno, who said bank executives interviewed candidates considered diverse for jobs already promised to others. The Times reported that Bruno was fired after speaking out.

In the United States, Wells Fargo employs more than 235,000 people, 13% of whom are black, according to the company’s 2020 statistics. 17% are Latinos and 55% are white.

“No one should interview without a real chance of receiving an offer, period. The various guidelines we have in place aim to increase the diversity of representation in the company and we can see significant results in our hiring data since 2020,” Wells Fargo said in a statement provided to ABC News that did not directly address the reported initiation of a federal criminal investigation.

“At the same time, it is important that the implementation of our guidelines is consistent. Earlier this week, the company temporarily suspended the use of its various slate guidelines. During this pause, the company is conducting a review so that hiring managers, senior executives and recruiters fully understand how the guidelines are to be implemented – and so that we can be confident that our guidelines deliver on their promises.

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