Report: Mulvaney Preps Consumer Finance Agency’s Biggest Fine Ever

PHOTO: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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The Consumer Financial Protection Agency is preparing a massive $1 billion fine against Wells Fargo even as interim chief Mick Mulvaney faces criticism for going easy on business.

Mulvaney’s agency and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) have been investigating Wells Fargo practices that involved layering insurance on driver’s insurance policies and collecting commissions on them, and are now ready to take action, sources familiar with the agency’s moves told Reuters.

The CFPB and OCC have also been looking into whether the bank has levied unfair fines on mortgage borrowers.

If the CFPB does apply a $1 billion penalty against Wells Fargo, it would be the largest fine the agency has ever imposed on a company. The current record fine is the one CFPB imposed on Wells Fargo in September 2016, when the bank was caught creating fake, duplicate accounts for customers in order to boost sales numbers.

Democratic leaders like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who helped create the CFPB in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, say Mulvaney is gutting the agency and not acting like the tough regulator envisioned by the Obama administration.

“Since Mr. Mulvaney took control, he has ignored congressional mandates, turning the CFPB into the politicized rogue agency he accused it of being before,” Warren wrote in a March 28 Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Warren complained Mulvaney has systematically ignored some rules imposed by the bureau, like collecting sensitive information from banks under examination — something Mulvaney halted in December, citing lax cyber security within the CFPB.

Mulvaney wants the agency to stop “pushing the envelope” of government authority over financial institutions. Yet, he also promised to be tough on businesses when necessary.

“I think you’re being naive if you think there aren’t folks out there who are breaking consumer financial protection laws,” Mulvaney said during a meeting with industry leaders in March, according to Reuters.

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