rollingstone.com / By Matt Taibi / December 28, 10:25 AM ET
Another day, another corporate titan suffering from devastating amnesia. This time, the memory-loss patient is none other than Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of Countrywide Financial.
Deposed in the landmark lawsuit between the monoline insurer MBIA and Countrywide/Bank of America, Mozilo professed not to know the difference between “verified” income and “stated” income. He also made some incredible remarks regarding his notorious “Friends of Angelo” lending program, in which, among others, political figures like North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd received Countrywide mortgages on highly advantageous terms just because they were tight with the CEO.
As chief of Countrywide, Mozilo headed the single most corrupt subprime mortgage lender in America during the period preceding the crisis. Charged with mass fraud and headed for trial in October of 2010, Mozilo and the SEC ultimately settled four days before opening arguments were set to begin in Los Angeles. Ultimately, Mozilo got away with no jail time, paying a $67.5 million settlement, $20 million of which was covered by Countrywide, which by then had been acquired by Bank of America, a major bailout recipient. Just in the years between 2000 and 2008, Mozilo made over half a billion dollars – $521.5 million, according to one corporate research firm.
If you were going to assign blame to any single person for the financial crisis, Angelo Mozilo would rank right up there with people like Lehman’s idiot CEO Dick Fuld, deranged credit-default-swap peddler Joe Cassano of AIG’s Financial Products unit, and deregulatory pioneers like Bob Rubin and Phil Gramm. Mozilo’s role, however, was probably the single most shameful, as he represented the conscious decision of mortgage underwriters to abandon lending standards in order to claim ever-larger chunks of market share.