Wells Fargo Whistleblower Yesenia Guitron Wins James Madison Freedom of Information Award

March 30, 2018

Yesenia Guitron worked at Wells Fargo's St. Helena, California Branch from 2008 to 2010. She refused to open fake bank accounts. She complained about what she felt were fraudulent practices. Wells Fargo fired her. 

Although Guitron filed federal whistleblower claims against Wells Fargo, the federal courts dismissed her claims based upon findings that Wells Fargo had presented clear and convincing evidence that Guitron could have otherwise been terminated for failing to meet sales goals, insubordination, and refusing to return to work after being placed on administrative leave.  http://brokeandbroker.com/PDF/Guitron9Cir. Essentially, the courts believed that notwithstanding her allegations of employer misconduct, Wells Fargo had demonstrated that they had other legitimate grounds on which to have otherwise fired the employee. Notwithstanding. Otherwise. Sometimes ya gotta love how blind (or blinded) Justice can be. Sadly, there are times when she's stumbling around in the dark. 

Notwithstanding the adverse federal courts' decisions, allegations have since arisen that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") failed to properly investigate Guitron's allegations of wrongful retaliation. Similarly, Wells Fargo has been subjected to regulatory sanctions as a result of its misconduct with opening unauthorized accounts, or, as the firm states online at "The latest we're doing to build a better Wells Fargo" https://www.wellsfargo.com/commitment/ :

As part of our ongoing efforts to build a better bank following our improper sales practice announcement in September 2016, we are looking across our entire company to identify and fix problems, be transparent and open about what we find, and make things right. We set aside $142 million for customer remediation and settlement expenses. We also pledged to conduct a review of our business practices. In following through on that commitment, we've identified additional problem areas that we are in the process of addressing. And we made them public as part of our renewed commitment to transparency.

In February 2018, we announced we have entered into a consent agreement with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System to improve risk management, compliance and oversight. In a message to customers, CEO and President Tim Sloan said, "Wells Fargo still has work to do. Yet we are a better bank today than we were a year ago, and we become better and stronger each day. Thank you for doing business with Wells Fargo. Our top priority remains earning your trust each and every day."

Hmmm . . . gee . . . that's a nice bit of public relations spin. As Wells Fargo would have you believe, the bank didn't so much have any regulatory problems as it issued an "improper sales practice announcement in September 2016." Sure. Okay, that's what Guitron and others were blowing the whistle about. Wells Fargo had a history of issuing improper announcements. And it's so nice that the firm's response was to set aside money and pledge to conduct a review. And, oh my, Wells Fargo, has "identified additional problem areas." And, now, I'm almost breathless from shock and admiration, but, hold on, the firm made its incredible discovery of additional problem areas "public as part of our renewed commitment to transparency." Renewed? As of when? -- after you shit canned Guitron? 

Of course, Wells Fargo at least acknowledges its consent agreement with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and, go figure, the firm admits that it "still has work to do." Of course, if you actually read what the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System said, you don't come away with the sense that everything is rapidly disappearing in the rear-view mirror:

"We cannot tolerate pervasive and persistent misconduct at any bank and the consumers harmed by Wells Fargo expect that robust and comprehensive reforms will be put in place to make certain that the abuses do not occur again," Chair Janet L. Yellen said. "The enforcement action we are taking today will ensure that Wells Fargo will not expand until it is able to do so safely and with the protections needed to manage all of its risks and protect its customers."


Recently, the Society of Professional Journalists awarded to Guitron a James Madison Freedom Of Information Award. There aren't all that many heroes walking around today, but, in the opinion of Bill Singer, Esq., publisher of the BrokeAndBroker.com Blog and the Securities Industry Commentator, Guitron is one. Take a moment to watch her video. Take a moment to understand the horrific uphill battle face by industry whistleblowers. Take a moment to recognize the incompetence and corruption that has polluted Wall Street, its regulatory system, and our political system.

Historic Federal Reserve Restrictions On Wells Fargo (BrokeAndBroker.com Blog, February 5, 2018)

Wells Fargo's Stumpf Stumbles And FINRA Fumbles (BrokeAndBroker.com Blog, September 21, 2016) http://www.brokeandbroker.com/3252/finra-wells-fargo-atm