Ex-Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo Charged With Fraud

During a March 7, 2008, hearing before Congress, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., summed up what many were thinking, saying, "Mr. Mozilo, you run the largest originator of home mortgages in the country, so if you don't bear personal responsibility I don't know who does."

Mozilo Still on the Payroll

Throughout that congressional hearing, Mozilo said he took pride in what he and Countrywide did and never once took any personal blame for the housing crisis.

"I am proud of the homeownership opportunities Countrywide has provided for more than 20 million Americans," Mozilo said.

Mozilo placed blame for what many now see as a recession on "an unprecedented series of economic shocks to the housing and capital markets."

"Much blame has been leveled lately at the variety of products, such as adjustable rate mortgages," Mozilo said at the time. "Before the onset of the current housing crisis, these products were widely offered by industry because they made homes more affordable for more people and helped homeowners consolidate other, more expensive debt.

"In fact," he continued, "adjustable rate mortgages had been popular with both borrowers and lenders for many years. From my perspective, then, the issue is not so much the products, but the housing market."

At the end of 2008, Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America in a deal worth some $2.5 billion. Bank of America had already pumped $2 billion into the mortgage lender before the deal was completed, and the acquisition was seen as a way to protect that investment.

Although Mozilo's company is now part of Bank of America, he is still profiting. As part of the acquisition, Bank of America agreed to retain Mozilo as a consultant. Mozilo is obligated to make himself available for a specified period of time each month through December 2011 and at the rate of $400,000 per year.

He is also entitled to receive other benefits, including office space, secretarial support, use of the company's aircraft, financial consulting services and payment of annual country club dues.

For three years, he gets continuing health, life insurance and financial planning benefits for himself and his beneficiaries. After those three years, he and his spouse will continue to get health benefits for their lifetimes.

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