16 March 2020

Wells Fargo appoints former TD Bank GC as bank's new legal head

Ellen Patterson takes over as GC at the scandal-hit lender from Allen Parker

By Ben Edwards

Pic of Wells Fargo office

A Wells Fargo Manhattan branch: last month the bank agreed to pay $3bn to settle criminal and civil investigations Shutterstock

US bank Wells Fargo has named Ellen Patterson as its new general counsel following the departure of Allen Parker earlier this month.

Patterson’s arrival comes at an uncertain time for Wells Fargo as it seeks to salvage its reputation in the wake of a sales scandal that exposed the bank for fraudulent practices that included opening millions of fake customer accounts.

Last month it agreed to pay $3bn to settle criminal and civil investigations in a deal which included a three-year deferred prosecution agreement.

Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf said: “Ellen is a seasoned lawyer with extensive experience in the financial services industry, where she has had responsibilities for managing and advising on global legal and regulatory compliance risks. She will play a critical leadership role on our operating committee as we continue to work on our company’s top priority of meeting regulatory expectations.”

Patterson is also named senior executive vice president and joins the San Francisco-based bank after more than seven years at TD Bank Group.

Most recently she served as group head and general counsel overseeing the bank’s legal, compliance, anti-money laundering and fraud risk management teams. Prior to her time at TD Bank, Patterson spent 14 years as a corporate finance partner at New York law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Patterson said: “I am excited to join Wells Fargo during a transformational time in the company’s history. I look forward to collaborating with leaders across the company to shape the culture, help businesses innovate, and produce the best outcomes for the customers and communities Wells Fargo serves.”

Parker’s departure was announced in November having initially been tipped to become the bank’s CEO after stepping in as interim chief executive when Tim Sloan resigned abruptly in March 2019. Instead, former BNY Mellon and Visa CEO Charles Scharf was appointed to the top job in October, with Parker returning to his previous role as GC before handing in his notice the following month.

Longtime Wells Fargo lawyer Doug Edwards had taken over as interim GC this month while the bank searched for a permanent replacement for Parker. Edwards had also assumed the role while Parker was serving as interim CEO.

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