A former assistant vice president and regional private banker for Wells Fargo has filed a lawsuit against the financial services provider.
Melinda Bini’s lawsuit names three local bank supervisors in addition to Wells Fargo. Bini alleges that she was fired for refusing to “manipulate accounts and sell banking products or investments that were not in the customers’ best interest or without their knowledge”, according to NJ.com.
Filed in Middlesex County Superior Court on April 5, the lawsuit claims her supervisors at the Highland Park branch had knowledge of a “banking and investment fraud scheme”. She claims she was instructed by the supervisors to participate in illegal activity, similar to activity Wells Fargo was fined for engaging in last year.
In that incident, Wells Fargo paid out millions to customers for unauthorized fees and charges, after allegations that employees had created “ghost accounts”. Employees used fake pin numbers and phony email addresses to add banking products to existing accounts, and opened 1.5 million deposit accounts and 565,000 credit card accounts in order to inflate their sales figures.
In the new lawsuit, Bini claims she would not participate in “unlawful and unethical banking”. She claims she was harassed after refusing to cooperate. She says she started working for the bank in 2002 and was fired in April 2016. The licensed financial adviser claims her supervisors are responsible for her dismissal, and it was done in retaliation.
Kevin Friedlander, spokesman for Wells Fargo, commented about the alleged retaliation.
“Wells Fargo does not tolerate retaliation against team members who report their concerns. Our non-retaliation policy makes clear that no team member may be retaliated against for providing information about suspected unethical or illegal activities or possible violations of any Wells Fargo policies,” Friedlander said in an emailed statement. “Since this is an ongoing legal matter, we are unable to comment any further on the lawsuit.”
Friedlander did confirm that the three supervisors named in the lawsuit are still employed, but made no comment on the allegations against them.
Last year, the bank fired more than 5,000 employees in the ghost account scheme.
Bini’s lawsuit seeks damages and reinstatement.
The following news report is from September 2016 when the scandal was exposed.
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