Tester Holds Wells Fargo Accountable for Fraud, Helps Get Victims Their Day in Court

Senator’s Questioning of Wells Fargo CEO Forces Bank to Drop Forced Arbitration Motion Against Victims of Fraud

(Great Falls, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s high profile grilling of the Wells Fargo CEO has resulted in justice for fraud victims following the bank’s scandal involving the opening of more than 3.5 million fake bank accounts for its customers.

During a Senate Banking Committee hearing in October, Tester secured assurances from CEO Tim Sloan that the bank was not requiring victims of Wells Fargo’s fraudulent actions to enter into forced arbitration and eliminate their right to sue the bank.

In contradiction to Sloan’s testimony to Tester, Wells Fargo was actively attempting to block a class action lawsuit in a federal Utah court by requiring the victims to enter into forced arbitration. As a direct result of Tester’s questioning, Wells Fargo on Thursday withdrew its motion to require forced arbitration. Now customers who had fake Wells Fargo accounts opened in their name have the right to sue the bank for its fraudulent actions.

“Wells Fargo must be held accountable,” Tester said. “This is a step in the right direction to ensure that victims of fraud are made whole again and I will keep fighting relentlessly for the millions of families that were deliberately lied to and bullied by Wells Fargo so they can receive justice.”

Before Wells Fargo withdrew its forced arbitration motion, Sloan was scheduled for a deposition on January 5 and the judge had scheduled a two-day trial set to begin on January 22 to specifically determine whether Sloan waived Wells Fargo’s right to seek forced arbitration during his testimony with Tester. Rather than cooperate with the deposition, Wells Fargo chose to drop the motion.

Forced arbitration clauses block consumers from suing a company over fraudulent actions and require them to seek recourse through a third-party arbitrator.

Tester has sponsored legislation to eliminate the ability of any bank to force customers into arbitration on any issue associated with fraudulent accounts, and he opposed legislative efforts to repeal the ban on forced arbitration clauses in banking contracts.

Tester also successfully demanded the IRS rescind a $7 million contract with Equifax after the company’s major data breach that jeopardized the personal financial information of tens of millions of Americans.