Wells Fargo to pay $3 bln for fake accounts

Wells Fargo has reached a $3 billion settlement with U.S. authorities, making it one more step closer to putting its notorious fake-account scandal behind it.

The tarnished bank will make the payment to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. officials announced on Friday, putting to rest one of the final major investigations into the bank's wrongdoing.

In what is rare for a corporate settlement, Wells Fargo admitted that for 14 years it pressured employees to meet "unrealistic sales goals that led thousands of employees to provide millions of accounts or products to customers under false pretenses or without consent." It also admitted that employees forged records or misused customer data.

As part of the agreement, prosecution will be deferred for three years and during that time Wells Fargo will cooperate with any ongoing government probes.

Bank CEO Charles Scharf, who was brought in after the scandal, said in a statement that his bank is now committed to making sure nothing like this ever happens again.

The scandal rocked the bank, which once had a stellar reputation, and sparked contentious hearings on Capitol Hill.

And more hearings are scheduled. The House Financial Services Committee is already planning three more hearings on Wells Fargo's conduct for next month.