According to a report by the LA Times, California Department of Justice is investigating Wells Fargo on allegations of criminal identity theft over its creation of millions of unauthorized accounts, according to a search warrant sent to the bank’s San Francisco headquarters this month. The warrant and related documents, served Oct. 5 and obtained by The Times through a FOIA request, confirm that California AG Kamala Harris, in the final weeks of a run for U.S. Senate, has joined the growing list of public officials and agencies investigating the bank in connection with the accounts scandal.
As Reuters adds, the AG warrant seeks to seize documents at Wells, and cites probable cause that felonies were committed at the bank.
Harris’ office demanded the bank turn over a trove of information, including the identities of California customers who had unauthorized accounts opened in their names, information about fees related to those accounts, the names of the Wells Fargo employees who opened the accounts, the names of those employees’ managers and emails or other communication related to those accounts. Her office is also requesting the same information about accounts opened by Wells Fargo workers in California for customers in other states.
While on the surface this would be an admirable move, it appears to be merely the latest attempt by a politician to score brownie points with voters. According to the LA Times, Harris has made her combat of wrongdoing in the financial services industry one of the themes of her Senatorial campaign. She has especially pointed to her role in negotiating $20 billion in relief from banks for California homeowners who lost homes or suffered losses in the housing bust. But that deal failed to live up to promises she had made to send those responsible to jail, opening her up to some criticism.