Wells CEO John Stumpf says he is 'deeply sorry' but denies 'orchestrated effort'

Stumpf: Fully accountable for unethical practices
Stumpf: Fully accountable for unethical practices

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf endured another round of tough Capitol Hill grilling Thursday, pledging to fix what went wrong and denying there was an "orchestrated effort" to defraud customers.

In an appearance before the Senate nine days ago, the head of the embattled bank faced blistering criticism for a scandal in which bank employees, in an effort to meet sales goals, enrolled millions of customers into programs without their approval.

Stumpf said the company would be terminating all sales goals at the end of this week.

"In fact, we don't even think they're an important requirement for us anymore to continue to grow," he said under questioning.

Stumpf used the House appearance Thursday hearing to again express contrition as his own board seeks to claw back $41 million in stock rewards he has earned. The bank has paid $185 million as a result of multiple investigations.

"I am deeply sorry that we failed to fulfill our responsibility to our customers, to our team members, and to the American public," Stumpf said.

"I want to apologize for violating the trust our customers have invested in Wells Fargo," he added. "And I want to apologize for not doing more sooner to address the causes of this unacceptable activity."

Members of Congress, however, have been frustrated with the answers they've received.

"The testimony that we have witnessed in the Senate trying to explain what happened is not satisfactory and we still do not have all the information we need to understand why this happened, when the sales culture turned toxic, who knew about it and when," said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

'No orchestrated effort, or scheme'

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, before the House Financial Services Committee.
Cliff Owen | AP

During the Senate hearing, Stumpf faced questioning of varying intensity. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called on him to resign and give back the money he earned while suggesting that he and other Wall Street executives should be jailed for violating the public trust.

Despite Stumpf's apologies, critics have been frustrated over his denials that the behavior went beyond rogue employees and reflected a systematic approach by the bank.

"I do want to make very clear that there was no orchestrated effort, or scheme as some have called it, by the company," he said. "We never directed nor wanted our employees, whom we refer to as team members, to provide products and services to customers they did not want or need."

Stumpf also detailed the measures to which the bank, which fired 5,300 workers, has gone to remedy the issues and make sure they do not recur.

His efforts, though, have not stopped lawmakers for pushing for more accountability. House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling told CNBC that Congress will be investigating how much Stumpf knew.

"The bottom line is we want to know how did this take place; why did this take place; who is being held accountable?" Hensarling said on "Squawk Box."