An attorney for Wendy Williams has accused Wells Fargo of “improprieties” including identity theft after a New York judge appointed a financial guardian over the talk show host’s finances on Thursday.
It’s the latest development in the battle that began with Wells Fargo freezing Williams’ bank accounts in February and requesting a hearing from the New York Supreme Court to determine if the TV personality could legally be considered an “incapacitated person.” In March, a temporary guardian was appointed, despite attorney La’Shawn Thomas’ insistence that her client is of sound mind.
“Please be advised that Wendy is not in agreement with the appointment of a financial guardian by the court. Wendy has been very clear that she does not want a financial guardian to tell her what she can and cannot do with her money, Wendy feels that she is capable of hiring her own financial advisors who work for and report to her and not to the court,” Thomas told TheWrap on Friday.
Turning the tables and calling out the financial institution, Thomas added, “We believe that this story has been put forth in an attempt to lessen the public outcry and regulatory scrutiny mounting around Wells Fargo due to their actions. We have complaints pending before multiple regulatory bodies regarding the improprieties surrounding this case, from a breach of the patient-doctor privilege to identity theft and we will of course be working with Wendy should she decide to appeal the court’s decisions.”
A representative for the bank declined to comment on Friday, but told TheWrap back in February, “Wells Fargo’s priority is the financial well-being of Ms. Williams and the preservation of her privacy. As we have expressed to the Court, Wells Fargo is open to working with Ms. Williams’ counsel to release funds directly to her creditors for bills historically and regularly paid from her accounts.”
In a March phone interview with “Good Morning America,” Williams said she was “absolutely” of sound mind. When asked why people might believe she was not, Williams explained, “Well, you know when people want control of their accounts, they say anything, including something crazy like that about me.”
In February, Sherri Shepherd was named as Williams’ replacement on her syndicated daytime talk show. Due to ill health, Williams was unable to carry on hosting “The Wendy Williams Show,” which is now in its 13th season.
After the 2016 revelation that Wells Fargo had created millions of fake bank accounts for customers without their knowledge, the Federal Reserve took the unprecedented move in 2018 of limiting the bank’s assets and also demanded resignations from the Wells Fargo board. “We cannot tolerate pervasive and persistent misconduct at any bank,” Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said in a statement at the time.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the financial guardian appointment.