Wells Fargo board chair, who broke glass ceilings in banking, resigns under pressure

Wells Fargo board chair, who broke glass ceilings in banking, resigns under pressure
Elizabeth Duke resigned Monday as board chair of Wells Fargo (Source: John D. Simmons/Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Austin Weinstein/Charlotte Observer) - Elizabeth “Betsy” Duke, who shattered multiple glass ceilings for women in banking, resigned as chair of the board of directors of Wells Fargo on Monday after the publication of two Congressional reports that were critical of her leadership. Fellow director James Quigley also resigned.

Last week, Rep. Maxine Waters, the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, called for Duke and Quigley to resign after a congressional report showed a “clear dereliction of duty” by the pair. The two are scheduled to testify in front of Waters’ committee on Wednesday.

The resignations were effective Sunday.

Duke and Quigley “have helped the Board navigate significant challenges relating to the sales practices issues, and they began the hard work of instituting necessary changes,” Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said in a news release. “We wish them the best.”

For over a decade, Wells Fargo employees created millions of fake accounts in customers names, among other misconduct, to meet unreasonably high sales goals that the bank had set. Management knew about it, Wells Fargo agreed in a $3 billion settlement with the government, turned a blind eye to the practices and minimized the issue to the company’s board.

Waters, a long-time critic of the bank, said in a statement that the settlement’s fine “barely dents” the bank’s profits.

Wells Fargo is is headquartered in San Francisco, and is one of the biggest employers in Charlotte with about 27,000 workers in the city.

‘CONTINUED LOYALTY’

In a joint statement released by the bank, Duke and Quigley said, ““Since we were made aware of the egregious harms suffered by Wells Fargo’s customers, we were and remain fiercely determined to do right by them and to strengthen the bank’s culture and controls.

“Out of continued loyalty to Wells Fargo and ongoing commitment to serve our customers and employees, we recommended to our colleagues on the board that we step down from our leadership roles and they have accepted our resignation.”

This is a developing story