WASHINGTON — Equifax CEO Richard Smith and Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan are scheduled to testify on major operational breakdowns at both companies before Senate lawmakers during the first week of October.
The Senate Banking Committee announced Thursday that it would hold a hearing Oct. 3 on Wells Fargo's phony-accounts scandal, which was first revealed by regulators a year ago. The hearing, "Wells Fargo: One Year Later," will feature Sloan as its sole witness.
A day later, the panel said, it will tackle Equifax's massive data breach, which compromised information on 143 million consumers, with Smith as the sole witness.
The hearings have high stakes for both companies. Last year, then-Wells CEO John Stumpf's performance at hearings was widely panned and likely played a role in his eventual resignation from the company. Since then, the news for Wells has only worsened. The bank disclosed that the number of customers potentially affected by the scandal was 3.5 million, up from its initial estimate of 2 million. And other problems have come to light, including allegations that the bank charged customers for auto insurance they didn't need.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a member of the Banking Committee, has also been pressing the Federal Reserve Board to fire members of Wells' board of directors who were present when the scandal occurred.
But Smith will also face a big test. The Equifax breach has drawn bipartisan condemnation because of the volume of data stolen and how many consumers were affected. Smith is likely to face questions on why it took six weeks for the public to be notified of the breach and about its initial use of arbitration agreements for customers signing up for Equifax's credit monitoring service.
Warren, among others, has said that Equifax's top executives need to be fired as a result of the breach.