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The former general counsel at U.S. banking giant Wells Fargo has been fined for his role in a fake account scandal.

The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced it settled with former Wells Fargo executive James Strother, assessing a US$3.5-million penalty against him and imposing a personal cease and desist order.

Back in January 2020, the OCC filed charges against Strother and four other senior executives at the bank, seeking to hold them responsible for the bank’s business model, which it alleged was the “root cause” of misconduct at the bank — including opening accounts without consent, and obtaining consent through deceit.

The regulator said that the bank’s business model “imposed intentionally unreasonable sales goals and unreasonable pressure on its employees to meet those goals and fostered an atmosphere that perpetuated improper and illegal conduct.”

As part of the settlement, Strother agreed to cooperate with the OCC in any other enforcement action involving sales practices misconduct at the bank.

Last year, the regulator settled six other cases with Wells Fargo executives.