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What Wells Fargo fallout means for other executives

After massive fines, firings and more looming legal cases, it's certain that Wells Fargo won't be the only corporate example of the Department of Justice. Continuing a pattern of cutting the head off the snake, the DOJ issued a memo in 2015 that called for extensive corporate prosecutions.

There was little doubt Wells Fargo's punishment would be severe. The government's approach of going after those at the top followed a pattern that dates back to Enron and WorldCom. There has been a concerted effort of punishing corporate leadership with an increased emphasis on serving time in addition to extensive fines on the company.

With heightened awareness, executives need to be on guard and vigilant about practices. With thousands of employees, it can be hard to manage internal practices even when preventative procedures are in place, but savvy and meticulous planning can help protect an organization and keep the company's operations legal.

For every case like Wells Fargo, there will also be cases where corporations go to court when they are not guilty of charges. The judicial mood may have the feel of circling vultures, but it's possible to come out with a clean record that shows no wrongdoing.

Vascular Solutions of Minnesota was investigated on charges regarding misuse of medical devices, eventually being found not guilty. CEO Howard Root feels it's a direct result of the DOJ's focus on corporate structures and offenses by other companies.

Bad apples are making it hard for everyone, making it all the more essential to keep a clean profile. Industry regulations and workforce compliance are musts and there's more to ensure their practice than paperwork and bookkeeping.

Wells Fargo is expected to lose nearly $1 billion dollars in legal costs. Better legal advice ahead of time could have protected their assets and avoided the troubling policies. Instead, new CEO Tim Sloan does not only face an uphill struggle to save his company, he enters his new job with irreparable brand damage -- a penalty even more harmful than the $185 million fine.

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