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Wells Fargo folds to criticism of Las Vegas retreat

After a torrent of negative press, Wells Fargo has decided to fold on its controversial worker reward trip.
The San Francisco-based bank, one of Minnesota’s largest employers, had been planning an annual four-day Las Vegas retreat

After a torrent of negative press, Wells Fargo has decided to fold on its controversial worker reward trip.

The San Francisco-based bank, one of Minnesota’s largest employers, had been planning an annual four-day Las Vegas retreat to reward top employees.

An Associated Press report on the event, however, ignited a fury of criticism because Wells Fargo accepted $25 billion from the federal government’s banking bailout program in the fall.

Wells Fargo disputed parts of the AP report in a press release Tuesday afternoon, but it also pulled the plug on the retreat:

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Through all economic cycles, our recognition events have been an important part of our company’s culture. Late last year, we cancelled recognition events for 2009 except those where the financial commitment was so great that no meaningful savings would occur by cancelling these events. We had scaled back the mortgage event, but in light of the current environment, we have now decided to cancel this event as well. We do not plan to have any other recognition events this year.

The Associated Press story also misleads readers by implying Wells Fargo used the government’s investment to pay for these events. As we’ve said before, we’ve used the government’s investment to lend to creditworthy customers and to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Since credit began contracting 18 months ago, Wells Fargo has made almost half a trillion dollars in new loan commitments and mortgage originations. Last quarter alone, we made $22 billion in loan commitments and $50 billion in mortgage originations. That’s more than $70 billion or almost three times the amount of the U.S. Treasury’s investment in Wells Fargo — which has begun to benefit from our performance through the dividend we will pay to the Treasury this quarter.