Wells Fargo settles shareholder lawsuits for $480 million

Wells Fargo glitch hits bank accounts

Wells Fargo says it has agreed to pay $480 million to resolve a class-action lawsuit brought by shareholders who claim the bank misstated or failed to disclose details about its sales practices.

The San Francisco-based bank said Friday that the agreement is in principle, and must be approved by the court before it's finalized.

Wells Fargo denies the claims and allegations in the lawsuits, which were filed in federal court in Northern California. It says it elected to settle the complaints to avoid the cost and disruption of further litigation.

In 2016, the bank agreed to pay a $185 million fine to state and federal regulators after it revealed that millions of accounts were potentially opened without customers' permission between 2009 and 2016.

The bank first acknowledged in September 2016 that its employees had opened millions of accounts without getting customers' permission. A sales-driven culture prompted some employees to open fake accounts because they were scared of losing their jobs if they didn't meet their sales goals, while managers looked the other way for the same reason. 

An internal investigation blamed a "broken" sales model and a defensive boss obsessed with stamping out negative views about her division as among the root causes of Wells Fargo & Co's sales scandal.