Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren clashed with Office of the Comptroller of the Currency chief Joseph Otting on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, saying the agency “blew it” when evaluating Wells Fargo CEO candidates in the past – as the search for a replacement is underway.
“No one has been … tougher on Wells Fargo than myself,” Comptroller Otting said during testimony before lawmakers belonging to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
Warren responded that – at the OCC – that was a “low bar,” which Otting said he found “insulting.”
The clash – during a hearing on the oversight of financial regulators – came over whether Otting would agree to publicly disclosing the OCC’s evaluation of the next Wells Fargo CEO, particularly where it pertains to his or her competence, character, experience and integrity.
Congress gave the OCC authority to examine the characteristics of candidates for leadership positions in a “troubled bank,” meaning it can strike down candidates. Otting said the OCC will conduct the review.
Though Otting has the legal option to do so, he said at this time he did not plan to release information pertaining to that review.
Warren has made a career of hammering Wells Fargo, leading the charge to have Sloan ousted. Sloan stepped down from his post in March, saying there was “too much focus” on him and he was “becoming a distraction.”
When Sloan made the announcement, Warren said it was “about damn time,” in a Twitter post. She has also asked the Justice Department to investigate the long-time Wells Fargo employee.
The 2020 presidential candidate said on Wednesday that the OCC “blew it” by letting former Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan take the lead at the company, since he was “complicit” in a scandal at the bank whereby millions of fake accounts were opened without customers’ knowledge.
The OCC together with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) fined Wells Fargo $1 billion over the way it administered insurance related to its auto loans and mortgage abuses. The bank was also fined $185 million in 2016 for secretly setting up those accounts on behalf of customers.