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Report: Wells Fargo branches got 24-hour heads-up before inspections

Wells Fargo & Co. branches had at least a 24-hour heads-up before officials from the company's risk department came to inspect, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 24. That reportedly gave some employees time to hide any evidence about improper practices, as confirmed by former and current Wells Fargo employees and executives to the newspaper.

It was common practice for managers to ask employees to stay on long into the night to forge missing signatures and shred incriminating documents, the sources told the Journal.

A company representative told the Journal that Wells Fargo has since bolstered internal controls — such as increasing the frequency of branch visits by internal inspectors, staffing changes, third-party "mystery shoppers," and unannounced inspections on sales behavior — in order to prevent unethical practices.

However, Vic Albrecht, risk management head for Wells Fargo, told the publication that the company's "Branch Control Review" still gives branch managers a 24-hour notice so the branch can plan ahead and avoid inconveniences to customers. He noted, though, that there was a possibility that the notice and other parts of the review might be changed down the road.