Bloomberg
Bloomberg

Prudential whistleblower rocks the boat in Wells Fargo scandal

Prudential had evidence of irregularities as early as January 2015 and should have acted more forcefully as evidence mounted this year, the 6 December complaint claims

Julie Broderick had 15 years of experience as a securities regulator before joining Prudential Financial Inc. as an investigative supervisor in 2012. When she sought this year to learn more about possible sales abuses by one of the insurer’s business partners, she said, the message from her company was clear: “Don’t rock the boat, don’t speak up, toe the party line and your job will be safe."

Then she was fired along with two colleagues. They responded with a whistleblower lawsuit containing allegations that led to state probes about whether Wells Fargo & Co. signed up people for Prudential’s MyTerm insurance without their permission. Even after the insurer halted sales through the bank last week, Broderick is calling out her former employer and saying the company let down customers.

Prudential had evidence of irregularities as early as January 2015 and should have acted more forcefully as evidence mounted this year, the 6 December complaint claims.

The insurer disputed her account. “The three former employees were terminated in response to an ethics complaint that was unrelated to the Wells Fargo review," Scot Hoffman, a spokesman, said in an e-mail. “Prudential’s decision to examine sales of the MyTerm product was initiated by our individual life insurance business and our compliance department, not by the plaintiffs."

Prudential has promised to reimburse Wells Fargo customers for unwanted insurance and said it expanded its review in September as the bank agreed to pay $185 million in fines after regulators investigated whether employees secretly opened unauthorised accounts to hit sales targets.

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