On the defensive following a report filed by the Associated Press this week that criticized it for moving forward with an employee recognition event taking place this month in Las Vegas, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo has cancelled the four-day meeting for its mortgage division, it announced on Tuesday. The national banking giant, which has received $25 billion in taxpayer money as part of the country's federal banking bailout, called the Associated Press report "intentionally misleading" and suggested that recognition events play a critical role in motivating and rewarding its employees.
"Through all economic cycles, our recognition events have been important part of our company's culture," the company said in a statement. "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 canceling 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."
A company tradition, previous Wells Fargo mortgage employee events have included all-expense-paid helicopter rides, wine tasting events and private concerts, according to the Associated Press. This year's retreat, which was scheduled to begin tomorrow at Wynn Las Vegas and the adjacent Encore Las Vegas, is just one of many canceled so far this year by financial services companies like Bank of America and AIG, both of which have called off all employee recognition events and executive retreats this year.
Wells Fargo—which will likely be responsible for paying hefty cancellation fees as a result of its Las Vegas no-show—was quick to point out that, had the event moved forward, it would not have been paid for with taxpayer money.
"The Associated Press story also misleads readers by implying Wells Fargo used the government's investment to pay for these events," read the company's statement. "As we've said before, we've used the government's investment to lend to creditworthy customers and to help homeowners avoid foreclosure."