Randal Quarles, the Federal Reserve's vice chairman for supervision, said Dec. 15 that he will recuse himself from any manners specifically related to Wells Fargo & Co. to "avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest."
Quarles is married to Hope Eccles, whose father was the chairman and CEO of the Utah-based First Security Bank before Wells Fargo purchased it. Spencer Eccles then went on to become chairman of Wells Fargo's intermountain banking region.
Quarles wrote a letter to the Fed's general counsel and top ethics official on Dec. 15 explaining his decision and noting that they deemed he no longer has financial interests or business loans with Wells Fargo. He wrote that although they told him he "may legally participate in any Federal Reserve matter affecting" the bank, he will not do so.
"I have made this decision in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest and any risk that the integrity of the Board's decision-making process in such matters might be questioned," he wrote.
Quarles, whose role was established under the Dodd-Frank Act, said he will participate in "all particular matters of general applicability, such as supervisory policies or rules applicable to all or any group of banking organizations."
The letter noted that he could still participate in Wells Fargo-related issues under a federal ethics rule where officials can decide that the "government's interest in an employee's participation outweighs appearance issues."