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Wells Fargo Boss Talks Bank Fees, Economy, Taxes

â¿¿ The Justice Department recently accused your bank of mortgage fraud. What's your response?

We think they got that wrong. Our FHA lending activity and servicing, we've done it in good faith, we have met the requirements that were laid out. The proof was really in the results â¿¿ our portfolio performs better than others. We have a number of defenses. This is one we're going to take on.

â¿¿ Some people on your board have what seem like close ties to your bank. Two have immediate relatives who work there, and not as tellers but as people who make nearly $300,000 or $800,000 a year. A board is supposed to be independent. How do you defend that? (Phil Quigley, a board member and the former lead director, has a son who works at Wells Fargo Securities. Cynthia Milligan, another board member, has a brother who works at the bank as a wealth management adviser.)

We have wonderful ethnic, geographic, gender and experiential diversity on our board. Five of our board members are persons of color, five are women, and they come to us with different disciplines and different geographies. In the case of Phil Quigley, he has reached his retirement age and he will not stand for re-election. His son works in one of our groups in southern California and he didn't even know his son had applied for a job until he got it. And I don't recall if Cynthia Milligan's brother is now retired or not, but those are the only two (board) members that I know that have family members (at the bank) and both of them enjoy very high re-election numbers. If you look at the SEC and New York Stock Exchange independence rules, they pass all of those. I never even hear it as an issue.

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