— -- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has joined a cast of other authorities investigating Wells Fargo sales practices, the bank disclosed in its regulatory filings on Thursday.
The investigation adds another layer of scrutiny on the bank, which has faced near-constant criticism since early September allegations that employees had opened as many as two million credit and deposit accounts without customers’ knowledge or permission.
In its standard filings made with the SEC, the bank detailed all of the regulatory and law enforcement agencies that had their eyes on its practices.
Under a section titled "Sales Practices Matters," the bank said that "formal and informal inquiries, investigations or examinations" were being undertaken by agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice, congressional committees, the SEC, California state prosecutors and attorneys general.
In the disclosure the bank listed agencies investigating its sales practices, as well as its mortgage practices related to the housing crisis.
It said that these probes are "arising out of certain sales practices of the Company," and that it "has responded, and continues to respond, to requests from a number of the foregoing seeking information regarding these sales practices," along with $185 million in fines from federal and California regulators it agreed to pay on Sept. 8th.
The bank said it has ended its sales goals program, which some allege may have pressured employees into opening accounts without authorization, on Oct. 1.
The Wall Street Journal, citing a person "familiar with the matter," reported that the SEC had requested information including documents from the bank in recent weeks. The paper said that the SEC's request for information followed Senators' calls for a probe of the bank and that the SEC was examining whether the bank had "misled investors and violated whistleblower protections while allegedly engaged in illegal sales practices."
Keeping with standard practice, a spokesman for the SEC would neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.
The company’s share value on the New York Stock Exchange has been down since the allegations were made in early September.