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For Immediate Release
September 21, 2012

Grassley, Latham Seek Answers to Concerns Over Bank Regulations Leading to Firings

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa today asked the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for details of the federal regulations that are meant to protect consumers from financial fraud but might be penalizing bank employees for old, minor infractions that are not a threat to current financial customers.  

“Indications so far are that the FDIC’s guidance to banks might be problematic,” Grassley said. “We’re asking for the guidance directly to try to determine whether that’s the case.  The rules have to make sense and have their intended effect of protecting the public from bank fraud.  They can’t be so rigid that they result in the firing of workers for petty crimes that are decades-old and have nothing to do with financial fraud.  And they can’t be applied unfairly so they result in a double standard for executives and rank-and-file workers.”

“Good citizens are more than willing to follow the rules.  But in typical Washington fashion, the FDIC isn’t sharing what those rules are,” Latham said.  “This creates uncertainty, frustration, and costs everyone involved time and resources.  America’s citizens and businesses deserve better than that from Washington.”

In addition to seeking the regulatory guidance the FDIC has given to banks, Grassley and Latham also are seeking the details of the process by which individuals seek waivers from the criminal background regulations.  Grassley and Latham asked for information including the guidance given to FDIC employees on processing waivers; the number of waivers sought, granted and denied; the number of FDIC employees assigned to process waivers; and a list of the documents prospective applicants are asked to provide.

Grassley and Latham began reviewing the effects of the banking regulations meant to weed out employees with criminal histories presenting risk of financial fraud after the Des Moines Register reported that Wells Fargo has fired workers including a 68-year-old customer service representative in Des Moines for putting a cardboard dime in a washing machine 49 years ago.  Other constituents have written with similar stories.

The text of the Grassley-Latham letter is available here.