Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is looking into the enforcement of federal regulations that are meant to protect consumers from financial fraud but might be penalizing bank employees for old, minor infractions that are not a threat to current financial consumers. The Des Moines Register reported that Wells Fargo has fired workers including a 68-year-old customer service representative in Des Moines for putting a cardboard dime in a washing machine 49 years ago. Grassley's staff has had an initial conversation with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the agency that promulgated the rule, to learn more. His staff has asked the agency for a briefing to cover the topic in more depth, especially regarding allegations that banks including Wells Fargo are seeking waivers from the regulation for executives but simply firing low-level employees rather than pursue waivers for them. Grassley also wants to know whether the firing of individuals for minor infractions, such as the washing machine incident, was an unintended consequence of the rules. Grassley's staff also contacted Wells Fargo for a briefing on how the bank is implementing the rules.
Sen. Grassley comment:
"I intend to get to the bottom of how these rules can be applied fairly. The intent of the law was to go after those who posed a potential danger to the financial system, not to target employees who may have committed petty crimes that are decades-old. Congress gave the FDIC the responsibility to write these regulations. We have a responsibility to make sure the rules make sense and have their intended effect of protecting the general public."