Allegations that Wells Fargo misrepresented its efforts to increase diversity in its hiring by interviewing more women and people of color for jobs that were no longer available have drawn the attention of federal prosecutors.
A criminal investigation is underway, according to an ABC News report.
The latest development follows a report by the New York Times published in May. The article quoted several current and former Wells Fargo employees who said the bank routinely interviews women and people of color for jobs it has previously offered to other applicants, ostensibly to fulfill its own mandate to diversity hiring.
In response to the Times report, Wells Fargo announced that it had “paused” the policy that led to job interviews allegedly granted under false pretenses.
“No one should interview without a real chance of receiving an offer, period,” the company said in a statement. significant results in our hiring data since 2020.”
“At the same time,” he added, “it is important that the implementation of our guidelines is consistent.”
Wells Fargo declined to comment on the investigation.
The Times interviewed seven current and former Wells Fargo employees who said they were “assigned by their direct bosses or human resources managers in the bank’s wealth management unit to interview ‘diverse’ candidates, even if the decision had already been made to give the position to another candidate.
The Times reported that five other employees said they either knew about the practice or helped organize it.
Wells Fargo has been rocked by multiple scandals in recent years, forcing many of its senior executives to leave the company in 2020. A fraudulent accounts scandal revealed in 2016 dealt the institution a severe blow and put the bank on the hook for billions of dollars in fines.
Wells Fargo Advisors was fined $7 million last month as part of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into failings in money laundering oversight.