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Wells Fargo under criminal probe for alleged fake job interviews of minority candidates

Wells Fargo is under criminal investigation after bank executives were accused of conducting mock interviews with minority and female candidates for positions already filled to boost the bank’s diversity metrics.

The investigation is being led by the new civil rights unit within the criminal justice division of the US law firm in Manhattan.

The new unit was founded by Damian Williams, the American attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The study comes a month after a New York Times report in which former bank employees came forward and claimed that they had been instructed by higher educated people to conduct interviews with black candidates, despite the fact that someone had already been selected for the jobs.

Former Wells Fargo wealth manager Joe Bruno, 58, told the Times he was fired last August after confronting his bosses about the bank’s alleged “fake interviews,” which he described as “inappropriate, morally wrong, ethically wrong”

Bruno claimed he had been instructed to interview black candidates for the lower-paid positions of financial advisor and financial advisor, despite the fact that he or his superiors had already selected someone for the job.

Bruno told the Times at one point that he refused to conduct the interviews, telling his bosses, “I have a black person on the other side of the table who has no chance of getting the job,” saying he was fired in retaliation for speaking out.

Former Wells Fargo wealth manager Joe Bruno, 58, (pictured) claims he was fired after telling his bosses about the bank's 'fake interviews'

The investigation is being led by the new civil rights unit within the office started by Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York (pictured)

Former Wells Fargo asset manager Joe Bruno, 58, (left) claims he was fired after telling his bosses about the bank’s “fake interviews.” The investigation is being led by the new civil rights unit within the office started by Damian Williams (right), the US attorney for the Southern District of New York

Manhattan federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into Wells Fargo to determine whether the bank's hiring practices violate the law

Manhattan federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into Wells Fargo to determine whether the bank’s hiring practices violate the law

The New York Times reports that there are no clear charges pending at this time, but the investigation points to a federal willingness to use criminal justice to address issues that may have been treated as civil cases in the past.

Bruno is just one of seven current and former Wells Fargo employees who claim their wealth management unit bosses have instructed them to interview so-called “diverse” candidates for positions already filled by another candidate.

Five other people also came forward and said they were aware of the practice or helped arrange the interviews, the Times reported last month.

According to the employees, some of whom remained anonymous for fear of losing their jobs, the interviews were a ploy to boost the bank’s diversity efforts pending possible regulatory audits rather than actually diversifying the bank’s workforce.

The claims come two years after CEO Charles W. Scharf pledged to increase diversity following the June 2020 murder of George Floyd.

The bank passed a formal policy that required several candidates to be interviewed for all open positions that bring in more than $100,000 a year.

On Monday, the bank’s CEO, Charles W. Scharf, announced that Wells Fargo would pause its diversity recruitment policy to implement changes.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Raschelle Burton also denied the false interview claims, telling the Times in an emailed statement: ‘To the extent that individual employees engage in the behavior described by The New York Times, we will not tolerate it’

Burton says the bank hired nearly 26,000 people in 2020 and 77 percent of them were not white men, and 81 percent of the 30,000 new employees in 2021 were not white men.

On Monday, the bank's CEO, Charles W. Scharf (pictured), announced that Wells Fargo would pause its diversity recruitment policy to implement changes.

On Monday, the bank’s CEO, Charles W. Scharf (pictured), announced that Wells Fargo would pause its diversity recruitment policy to implement changes.

She did not specify what percentage of those new hires were for jobs that paid more than $100,000.

The bank has been in legal hot water before on diversity.

In August 2020, the bank paid an $8 million settlement to the Department of Labor for allegedly discriminating against more than 30,000 black applicants for banking, sales and support positions at the bank.

Before that, in 2017, the bank was forced to settle a class action lawsuit for racial discrimination, paying $36 million to 320 black financial advisors who claimed they were not given the opportunity to win new clients or partner with white financial advisors. .

Following the settlement, the bank pledged to “take actions to increase the employment, income and promotion opportunities of African-American financial advisers and financial adviser trainees,” as well as an unofficial policy of targeting at least one woman or person of color. interview for any open job, Burton said.

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