WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers escalated their accusations that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was slow to start investigating allegedly fraudulent sales practices at Well Fargo & Co., saying the agency joined in well after other regulators.
The GOP criticism came during CFPB Director Richard Cordray’s appearance at a House panel hearing on Wednesday, his first congressional testimony since the Republican victory in the November election. Republican lawmakers have been looking into ways to pare back the power of the agency created under the Obama administration, including the removal of Cordray.
During the hearing, Rep. Ann Wagner (R., Mo.) alleged the CFPB didn’t initiate independent investigations into Wells Fargo’s
sales practices until May 2015, four days after the bank itself informed the agency that Los Angeles officials filed a civil complaint against Wells Fargo, and nearly a year and a half after the Los Angeles Times first reported suspected fraudulent activities at the bank’s California branches.
Wells Fargo was fined $185 million last year by the CFPB and other regulators for opening numerous accounts without customer consent. Wagner said her assertion was based on material gathered by the House committee as part of its own investigation into the case.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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