The United States has a sprawling financial oversight regime. Four federal agencies watch over banks, while two more regulate markets and thus the financial institutions involved. Those entities do not have criminal authority, however, and do not include state and local officials that also have supervisory duties. Cooperation therefore helps maximize leverage and penalties imposed on firms accused of wrongdoing. Regulators often work with the Justice Department on cases where additional civil charges or a criminal probe may be warranted. In recent cases ranging from market manipulation to violations of sanctions, that kind of collaboration has netted both criminal guilty pleas and substantial regulatory fines in one large settlement. Justice Department officials are getting a late start in the Wells Fargo case, which involves over 2 million deposit and credit-card accounts allegedly opened without customer authorization. Prosecutors only learned of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau probe against the bank led by John Stumpf around the time the record fine was announced on Sept. 8, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. That means authorities are belatedly tracking down possible witnesses and documents that could be harder to find now that the regulatory case has been settled. Wells Fargo did not admit or deny guilt, but fired about 5,300 employees in relation to the scandal, which dates back to 2011.
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