Updated from Tuesday, Feb. 3
abruptly canceled Tuesday a pricey Las Vegas casino junket for employees after it received criticism that it was misusing $25 billion in taxpayer bailout money.
The company initially defended the trip, a Wells Fargo tradition, after the
reported it had booked 12 nights beginning Friday at the Wynn Las Vegas and the Encore Las Vegas. But investigators and lawmakers on Capitol Hill had scorned the bank, and Wells Fargo canceled.
"In light of the current environment, we have now decided to cancel this event as well," the company said Tuesday night in a news release that also said it had never planned to use taxpayer bailout money for the trip.
The planned event by the bank was the latest example of a financial firm appearing tone deaf to an increasingly bailout-weary public.
Wells, which has received $25 billion from the Treasury Department under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, is not alone in showing love for its employees even as the government has been forced to keep the banking system afloat as the credit crisis holds it under siege.
was criticized last year for sending its executives on lavish spa retreats shortly after receiving a government handout.
Bank of America
on Jan. 22 ousted former
CEO John Thain, after Merrill posted a $15.3 billion fourth-quarter loss but paid out billions of dollars in employee bonuses. Thain himself had drawn ire in December following reports that he had requested a $10 million bonus for his stewardship of Merrill.
President Barack Obama has criticized Wall Street's $18.4 billion in bonus payouts, saying "That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful."
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