The Navajo Nation announced that it has settled its lawsuit against Wells Fargo & Co for $6.5 million.
The Navajo Nation sued Wells Fargo in federal and tribal courts in 2017, claiming it targeted tribal members with “predatory sales tactics.” The tribe alleged that Wells Fargo — the only national bank that services its territory — preyed on people by opening unauthorized bank accounts and debit cards, and by pressuring people, especially the elderly, to enroll in services they did not need.
“Wells Fargo’s predatory actions defrauded and harmed the Nation,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a press release. “We held Wells Fargo accountable for their actions, and we will continue to hold other companies accountable if their business practices do not respect our people — this puts other companies on notice that harmful business practices against the Navajo people will not be tolerated.”
“The Wells Fargo settlement compensates the Nation, as well as avoids the uncertainty and expense of continued litigation,” added Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen N. McPaul. “Our litigation team at the Department of Justice, led by Assistant Attorney General Paul Spruhan, handled the tribal court litigation, and he and Assistant Attorney General Jana Werner from our Tax and Finance Unit coordinated with our outside counsel on the federal case.”
Wells Fargo said in a statement that the agreement shows the bank’s “commitment to make things right regarding past sales practices issues,” according to Reuters.
Back in March, Wells Fargo reached a $240 million settlement with U.S. shareholders over the scandal involving its bank employees opening up millions of unauthorized customer accounts. Insurers for 20 current and former Wells Fargo executives and directors, including Chief Executive Tim Sloan and his predecessor John Stumpf, will be responsible for paying the $240 million to the bank.
The shareholders in the March settlement were led by pension plans in Alabama and Colorado, with their lawyers noting that this is the largest insurer-funded cash settlement in a U.S. shareholder derivative lawsuit.