December 19, 2019 / 8:51 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Senior U.S. lawmaker to seek testimony of Wells Fargo's board

(Adds Wells Fargo declining to comment, paragraph 8)

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Wells Fargo's board of directors will be called to testify before Congress about the bank's numerous scandals sometime in 2020, a senior U.S. House lawmaker told Reuters Thursday.

Representative Maxine Waters, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, said in a brief interview she wanted to press the board on their role in righting the bank after years of fines, regulatory penalties, and business upheaval.

"We're going to get some of their board members up here, and see what kind of responsibilities their board members are taking for the management of Wells Fargo," she said. "We're going to have hearings, absolutely."

Waters, a Democrat from California, added that she remains convinced that Wells is too big to be properly managed and should be broken up.

"We're going to focus especially on Wells Fargo," she said of her panel's agenda next year. "There's a new CEO there, but I think the culture of Wells Fargo has developed in such a way that it's going to be very difficult for this new CEO to get his arms around it."

The San Francisco-based bank is on its third chief executive since disclosing a wide-ranging sales practice scandal in 2016. Charles Scharf, the former CEO of Bank of New York Mellon, took the lead role at the bank in October.

Scharf sits on the bank's board, which is currently chaired by Elizabeth Duke, who once served on the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors.

The bank declined to comment.

The San Francisco-based bank is currently operating under more than a dozen regulatory consent orders, including an unprecedented growth restriction on its balance sheet from the Fed until the bank proves it has fixed its risk controls. Additionally, Wells Fargo faces federal probes by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commision and the Department of Labor.

As part of its latest overhaul, the bank also hired a new head of public affairs, William Daley, who worked with Scharf at BNY Mellon and previously served as chief of staff to President Barack Obama.

Separately in 2020, Waters also said she plans to pursue legislation that would set a national interest rate cap of 36% on consumer loans, continue to scrutinize Facebook's attempts to establish a new digital currency, Libra, and redouble efforts to address homelessness in America. (Reporting by Pete Schroeder and Imani Moise; Editing by David Gregorio)

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