Wells Fargo pays $6.5 million to Navajo Nation over ‘predatory’ practices


FILE PHOTO: A Wells Fargo ATM machine is shown in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Wells Fargo & Co will pay the Navajo Nation $6.5 million to settle a lawsuit over “predatory and unlawful practices” by the bank, the Native American tribe said on Thursday.

The Navajo Nation sued Wells Fargo in federal and tribal courts in 2017, alleging the San Francisco-based bank had opened unauthorized accounts for vulnerable tribe members as part of the potentially millions of fake accounts opened by bank employees nationwide.

The settlement “puts other companies on notice that harmful business practices against the Navajo people will not be tolerated,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in the statement, which referred to Wells Fargo’s “long campaign of predatory and unlawful practices.”

Wells Fargo said in a statement that the agreement demonstrates the bank’s “commitment to make things right regarding past sales practices issues.”

The settlement with the Navajo Nation followed a $575 million deal in 2018 with U.S. states over claims that Wells Fargo opened phony customer accounts and improperly referred and charged customers for financial products.

The settlement comes as Wells Fargo continues its attempt to overcome the fallout from its earlier practices. The bank said last year it had “re-established” itself, but has continued to face harsh criticism from politicians and consumer advocates.

The bank has seen two chief executives exit the firm in the wake of the series of scandals, and is still searching for a replacement for former CEO Timothy Sloan, who abruptly stepped down in March.

Reporting by Bryan Pietsch; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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