The Justice Department is investigating potential employee fraud at Wells Fargo & Co.'s wholesale banking unit, according to a published report.
Citing unnamed people familiar with the probe, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that investigators are trying to determine whether management at the bank pressured employees to improperly alter customer information without consent.
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The investigation stems from revelations that employees in the wholesale banking unit, which caters to corporate customers, added Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other customer information to documents in a bid to beat a regulatory deadline, the newspaper said.
The matter initially involved Well's business banking group, which focuses on companies with annual sales of $5 million to $20 million, but further reviews by the bank discovered that the problems were more widespread, according to the Journal's report.
Wells Fargo declined Thursday to comment on the investigation or to go into details about what happened in its wholesale banking unit. But Wells spokesman Alan Elias said the matter involved a new process and a new required document that the bank's employees had to complete "to help ensure we know our customers."
"We've recognized that in certain circumstances additional training and new procedures were needed and have now been applied," Elias said, adding that the matter "has not negatively impacted our customers."
The Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
San Francisco-based Wells Fargo has been plagued by scandals in recent years, including employees opening millions of fake accounts for customers without their authorization and the bundling of auto insurance policies on to auto loans when customers did not need them.
Last month, the lender agreed to pay a $2.1 billion fine to settle allegations it misrepresented the types of mortgages it sold to investors during the housing bubble that ultimately led to the 2008 financial crisis.
Wells Fargo shares slid 1.7 percent to $57.93 Thursday. The stock is down 4.5 percent this year.