LOS ANGELES - Wells Fargo & Co. first defended, then canceled, a pricey Las Vegas casino junket for employees after being accused of misusing $25 billion in taxpayer bailout money.

The company initially defended the trip after it was revealed that Wells Fargo had booked 12 nights at two of the city's most expensive hotels.

But within hours, investigators and lawmakers on Capitol Hill had scorned the bank, and the company canceled.

"We had scaled back the mortgage event, but in light of the current environment, we have now decided to cancel," according to a company statement. The lender said it had already abandoned plans for other functions.

Wells Fargo's event for the home-lending unit was scheduled to take place at Wynn Resort Ltd.'s hotels. An insurance-team meeting for 40 people was planned at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino starting Feb. 25, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority's web site.

Lawmakers and regulators have criticized financial companies for perks and bonuses offered to employees since the U.S. government's $700 billion rescue plan was announced in October.

Last week, Wells Fargo reported a $2.55 billion fourth- quarter loss after acquiring Wachovia Corp. and its portfolio of troubled mortgages. Wells Fargo received $25 billion from the U.S. government in October as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program designed to spur lending and save the financial system.

The trip is a Wells Fargo tradition. Previous all-expense-paid trips have included helicopter rides, wine tasting, horseback riding in Puerto Rico and a private Jimmy Buffett concert in the Bahamas for more than 1,000 of the company's top employees and guests.