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Wells Fargo's $1 billion fine doesn't fit the 'crime': Securities attorney

  • The $1 billion that Wells Fargo must pay to settle lending abuses is not high enough, securities attorney Andrew Stoltmann says.
  • "The executives and the board of directors were responsible for this, and I don't think the actual fine fits the crime," he says.

The $1 billion that Wells Fargo must pay to settle lending abuses is not high enough, securities attorney Andrew Stoltmann told CNBC on Friday.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced the settlement on Friday.

The CFPB said Friday the violations were connected with how Wells Fargo administered a mandatory insurance program in its auto loan business and how it charged certain borrowers for mortgage interest rate lock products.

Stoltmann said the fine is about 2 to 2.5 percent of the firm's net income from last year.

"The executives and the board of directors were responsible for this, and I don't think the actual fine fits the crime. And make no mistake about it, it is a crime," he said on "Closing Bell."

In fact, he thinks some executives should face prison time.

"To the extent you don't have senior executives going to prison, I think you are going to continue to see these sorts of abuses going forward," said Stoltmann, an investor advocate.

Wells has agreed to pay back the customers and make changes to its risk and compliance practices.

In a statement, CEO Tim Sloan said, "While we have more work to do, these orders affirm that we share the same priorities with our regulators and that we are committed to working with them as we deliver our commitments with focus, accountability, and transparency."

When asked for a comment regarding Stoltmann's remarks, a Wells spokesperson referred back to Sloan's statement.

Chris Whalen, chairman of Whalen Global Advisors, said Wells Fargo made mistakes but he thinks the company is going to address it.

In fact, he says the Federal Reserve is ultimately responsible because it "slammed" Wachovia into Wells Fargo to avoid another bankruptcy. Wells bought the troubled Wachovia for about $15 billion in 2008.

However, he says, that doesn't mean Wells executives are without blame. He agrees that in some cases, some executives should go to prison.

"The officers and directors are responsible, and when they are sloppy and stupid and they do bad things they should be punished," Whalen said on "Closing Bell."

He believes the worst is now over for investors, he says.

Shares of Wells closed Friday up 1.9 percent.

— CNBC's Liz Moyer contributed to this report.