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CORRECT(5/9): Wells Fargo Defends Employee Firings After Background Checks

("Wells Fargo Defends Employee Firings After Background Checks," published May 9 at 19:34, misstated the number of shoplifting arrests on an employee's criminal record in the second paragraph. The correct version follows:) DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) defended its decision to fire some employees who were convicted of petty crimes long ago, saying the law requires it. The bank responded after news reports spotlighted the company for firing some employees convicted of crimes in their youth. One 58-year-old customer service worker was given a pink slip after Wells Fargo discovered two shoplifting arrests from 1972, according to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Wells Fargo has been taking fingerprints from new and existing employees and checking their backgrounds against the Federal Bureau of Investigation's database. Spokesman Jason Menke said the bank's hands were tied by stricter federal rules that ban financial institutions from employing people with a record of a crime that involves dishonesty or breach of trust. "There have been a number of changes in the federal regulatory environment in the past two years ... and unfortunately some team members have been affected," Menke said. "We recognize this is difficult for everyone involved." Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act prohibits insured institutions from hiring or employing anyone with a known criminal record involving crimes like stealing, regardless of when the incidents occurred. The requirement extends to convictions of people who agreed to a pretrial diversion of prosecution for such an offense, even if those charges are dismissed. Violating the requirement could cost the bank up to $1 million a day, Wells Fargo said. Shares were recently off 6 cents at $32.57 after hours. The stock has climbed 18% so far this year. -By Drew FitzGerald, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2909;

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