Wells Fargo to stop giving branches advance notice of inspections

By By Dan Freed Features Reuters

Wells Fargo & Co will eliminate its policy of notifying branches a day in advance before they are visited by internal inspectors, a bank spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

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The decision comes after the Wall Street Journal reported on the advance notice, describing how it gave employees time to cover up problematic sales practices by shredding documents and forging signatures.

Mary Eshet, a spokeswoman for the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, confirmed that Wells Fargo will halt the practice. She had no immediate response to allegations outlined in the Journal, which cited unnamed current and former Wells Fargo employees and executives.

Wells Fargo is conducting a broad internal review of its sales practices after it settled charges that it created as many 2 million credit card and checking accounts without customer authorization.

The $190 million settlement, announced in September, hammered the bank's share price and led to the resignation of then-Chief Executive John Stumpf.

The shares have recovered amid a broad-based banking sector rally following the November U.S. presidential election.

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(Reporting by Dan Freed in New York; Editing by Alan Crosby)