Wells Fargo, the troubled US bank, is just one week away from an annual general meeting at which the roles of many of its board directors could be threatened.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the most vulnerable director is chairman Stephen Sanger, who occupied the role after the departure of chairman and chief executive John Stumpf. This followed a sales scandal that resulted in a $185m payment to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The WSJ quotes New York City comptroller Scott Stringer saying: “The fraud at Wells Fargo is ultimately an oversight failure. That’s why accountability—and real, meaningful change—needs to start at the top. The only question is which directors, and that is what investors are now assessing.”
Proxy adviser ISS has already advised that investors vote against the reappointment of Sanger, though Glass Lewis has advised backing the chairman while proposing votes against six other directors.
News emerged in early September last year that Wells Fargo was dealing with the revelation that staff has create almost two million fake accounts for customers, in a bid to meet sales targets.
Former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt described it as a scandal of “almost unimaginable proportions”.
The bank has since sacked almost 5,000 workers and agreed to split the roles of chairman and chief executive.
In a statement at the time of the SEC settlement, the bank said: “Wells Fargo reached these agreements consistent with our commitment to customers and in the interest of putting this matter behind us.
“Wells Fargo is committed to putting our customers’ interests first 100% of the time, and we regret and take responsibility for any instances where customers may have received a product that they did not request.”