The daily business briefing: April 20, 2017

Fox fires Bill O'Reilly, regulators admit failing to act on Wells Fargo scandal "red flags," and more

A Wells Fargo bank in California
(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Bill O'Reilly fired from Fox News

Longtime Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has been forced out over a wave of sexual harassment and verbal abuse allegations, the cable network's parent company, 21st Century Fox, announced Wednesday. The company recently hired a law firm to investigate one of the latest sexual harassment claims, which one of O'Reilly's accusers called the company's hotline to report. "After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel," 21st Century Fox said. More than 50 advertisers had ditched the combative prime-time host's ratings-leading show since The New York Times reported that O'Reilly and his employers had paid five accusers $13 million in settlements. O'Reilly denies the allegations, saying it was "tremendously disheartening" to be leaving due to false claims.

The New York Times

2. Regulator says it failed to act on Wells Fargo 'red flags'

The chief U.S. banking regulator, the Comptroller of the Currency, faulted itself for failing to act on "red flags" to stop the Wells Fargo fake account scandal years ago. In an internal review published Wednesday, the regulator said it was aware in January 2010 of "700 cases of whistleblower complaints" over aggressive sales tactics that fueled the scandal. The report called oversight of the bank "untimely and ineffective," saying federal examiners missed numerous chances to uncover the core problems behind the creation of millions of fake bank and credit card accounts by employees trying to meet aggressive sales targets.

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3. ExxonMobil reportedly requested waiver from Russia sanctions

ExxonMobil is pushing for a waiver from U.S. sanctions on Russia to clear the way for a joint venture with the Russian state oil company, Rosneft, to drill in the Black Sea, The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing a former State Department official. The application for the waiver from Treasury Department sanctions, which were imposed to punish Russia for its military intervention in Ukraine, was filed during the Obama administration, when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was CEO of ExxonMobil, although the matter was not discussed during his Senate confirmation hearings. The decision on the request now falls to the Trump administration as tensions are rising between Moscow and Washington over Syria. Exxon declined to confirm whether it had made the request.

The New York Times Reuters

4. GM says government seized its plant in Venezuela

General Motors said Thursday that it had halted operations in Venezuela after the government seized its plant in the South American country. GM called the seizure of its local subsidiary, General Motors Venezolana, "illegal," and vowed to "vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights." GM has 2,700 workers and 79 dealers in Venezuela. The company said it would make "separation payments" to affected workers, and continue providing service and parts to customers. The takeover came as the government of socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro faces massive protests as the country faces high inflation and shortages of many basic goods.

USA Today

5. Leading oil producers express optimism on extending production cuts

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait said Thursday that consensus is growing among major oil producers that they should extend an agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC producers to cut oil supplies. "There is consensus building but it's not done yet," Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said. Kuwait's oil minister, Essam al-Marzouq, said he expected an extension of the six-month deal. "Russia is on board preliminarily," he said. "Compliance from Russia is very good. Everyone will continue on the same level." The news gave oil prices a lift. After a $2 drop on Wednesday, the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate gained 48 cents, or 1 percent, early Thursday.

Bloomberg Reuters

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.