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Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report

will pay the U.S. government $312.5 million in dividends for the first quarter, the bank said Thursday.

The $12,500-a-share dividend on 25,000 preferred shares is payable to the Treasury Department on Friday. The government made its investment through the Capital Purchase Program, in which it injected capital into major financial institutions to shore up their balance sheets and confidence in the sector.

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The program was also intended to spur lending at banks that had become more wary of doling out funds to consumers and businesses during the recession, as their balance sheets were under increasing pressure. Wells, which has said in the past that it didn't need the money in the first place, emphasized that the program has enabled it to extend even more loans.

CFO Howard Atkins said Wells has issued more than $225 billion in credit since it first received government funds in October, and extended mortgage loans to twice as many consumers during the first quarter than in the previous one.