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Wells Fargo CEO Sloan should be fired, Sen. Warren says

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a frequent foil of the biggest U.S. banks, said it’s time for another Wells Fargo chief executive to go.

CEO Timothy Sloan ― continuing the bank’s extended mea culpa tour ― told lawmakers during a Senate Banking Committee hearing Tuesday that the buck stops with him on the lender’s recovery from recent scandals that potentially wronged millions of customers. Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, accused the longtime senior executive of either being incompetent or complicit.

“Either way, you should be fired,” Warren told him. “You enabled this fake account scam, you got rich off it, and you tried to cover it up.”

Warren, who last year argued successfully for the termination of his predecessor, John Stumpf, outlined statements that Sloan made to investors defending the bank’s methods after he and other company leaders were aware of problems with sales practices. Sloan said the words were “taken out of context.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, during Senate Banking commitee hearing October 2017
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing with Tim Sloan, chief executive officer of Wells Fargo & Co., not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. After a "humbling and challenging" year, Sloanis set to outline the steps the bank has taken in response to its bogus-accounts scandal that brought down his predecessor,John Stumpf. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

“I certainly haven’t been perfect,” Sloan, 57, acknowledged, though he said he’s still the right person to lead the San Francisco-based bank. And after a long session of humble contrition on Tuesday in which senators from both parties pummeled him ― including questions from Democrats on the lender’s continued reliance on forced arbitration for customers ― Sloan bit back.

When Warren questioned how he could tell employees that they’re the priority while also telling investors the bank will trim billions in costs that would potentially involve personnel cuts, he said: “I couldn’t disagree more with almost everything Senator Warren said.” He went on to say she was scaring people by assuming his remarks would mean thousands of job cuts.

“We care about our team members,” he said. “But at the same time, I have an obligation as the CEO of this company that we keep other stakeholders happy.”