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As law enforcement agencies and private plaintiffs attorneys circle Wells Fargo & Co. in the wake of its sham accounts scandal, the bank and its executives have deployed a legion of defense attorneys to limit the legal fallout.
Last month, the company announced in securities filings that it had set aside at least $1.7 billion to fend off the wave of litigation. Judging from the roster of counsel it has tapped so far, it’s already eating into that war chest. The bank and its executives have called on at least a dozen corporate Wall Street firms and premier white-collar boutiques, including Shearman & Sterling; Munger, Tolles & Olson; Williams & Connolly; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Goodwin Procter.
Wells Fargo has brought on a Sidley Austin team led by San Francisco partner David Anderson to handle the investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Anderson, who served as the No. 2 prosecutor in the San Francisco U.S. attorney’s office during the George W. Bush administration, has the thorny task of navigating the federal investigation, with Wells Fargo already facing a $100 million fine from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for the widespread practice at the bank of opening unauthorized accounts and credit cards to meet sales quotas.
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