Countrywide

  • 19 Dec 2014 at 3:53 PM

Bonus Watch ’14: Countrywide Whistleblowers

angelo_moziloThe total payouts to whistle-blowers in the federal government’s $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America over its mortgage business may approach $170 million. Edward O’Donnell, a former executive at Countrywide Financial, and Robert Madsen, a former property appraiser for the bank already have been identified as two of the whistle-blowers that federal prosecutors gave credit to in the settlement agreement with Bank of America. The other two whistle-blowers entitled to a share of the settlement dollars being paid out by Bank of America are Shareef Abdou, an executive in the bank’s operations group, and the firm Mortgage Now, a New Jersey mortgage lender, according to court filings. The filings did not disclose the value of the settlement payouts, but the whistle-blowers, all of whom filed complaints under the Federal False Claims Act, are collecting payments equal to 16 percent to 17 percent of specific portions of the $16.65 billion, according to court filings and people briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly. [Dealbook]

Over the last several years, Bank of America has paid something like $827 billion in fines and settlements, including $16.65 billion just last month. So while another billion here or there would represent but a drop in the bucket, you can sort of understand why Moynihan et al would be done, emotionally, cutting these checks and why they would try and get out of whatever penalties they can, however thin the arguments for doing so (“Just put us out of our misery already”) may be. Unfortunately, today is apparently not Moynihan’s day and tomorrow’s not looking very good either. Read more »

In June 2008, at the last Countrywide shareholder meeting after the company had been bought by Bank of America, founder Angelo Mozilo made a bold statement, telling those assembled, “[Bank of America] will reap the benefits of what we have sowed.” While one might quibble over the definition of the word “benefit,” the bank was unquestionably on the reaping end of what Mozilo and Co had sowed, namely a lot of predatory lending and mortgage messiness that ultimately grew and blossomed into approximately $71 billion worth of fines and BofA CEO Brian Moynihan’s near-nervous breakdown. Though mum when Bank of America was writing checks to resolve issues it inherited from CFC, Mozilo did deign to pick up the phone and chat with Bloomberg last week, following the news that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles intends to sue him over the not-so-great job he did. And thank god he did, because there is a lot we needed to be filled in on re: what Ang has been doing/thinking/feeling these last 6 years.

  • Like, his plans to build an old-timey Western town: “…a project in Templeton, a small Southern California town where he’s requested permits to build a two-story retail and office building on a vacant lot. Architectural sketches show a style suited for a quaint Western main street. ‘It’s a throwback to a century ago,’ Mozilo said. ‘I love America. I love everything about America.'”
  • His belief in, if not consumption of, Taco Bell: “One investment is a stake in a building that houses a Taco Bell outside Phoenix. Mozilo said he hasn’t eaten there because he stays away from chicken and beef.
  • His work giving the next generation a crash course in Finance 101: Mozilo Style: “Mozilo decided to teach undergraduates what he knows about finance last year. The former trustee of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, said he spent about two weeks in Italy at Gonzaga-in-Florence, housed in the Mozilo Center overlooking a 16th-century Medici garden. ‘I taught them the basics of finance based on my own experiences,’ he said. ‘I really enjoyed being among them. It was very refreshing for me.'”

The most interesting development, however, is probably his newfound penchant for speaking in the third person when denying any and all blame re: what went down at Countrywide. In short, Mozilo thinks those pointing fingers should go home and take a good look in the mirror. Read more »

  • 25 Apr 2014 at 4:20 PM
  • Banks

Brian Moynihan Can Make His Mortgage-Bond Nightmare Go Away

All it will take is an extra $13 billion-plus, on top of the $9.5 billion BofA coughed up last month, part of the $50 billion or so BriMoy has paid out to deal with the albatross that was the Cadillac of mortgage lenders. Read more »

  • 24 Oct 2013 at 4:33 PM
  • Banks

Countrywide Dances To Its Own Grave

Painting a mental portrait of 200 Countrywide employees doing the Hustle did nothing to convince jurors that the eponymous mortgage program was not just a big plot to rip Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac off. Read more »

  • 17 Oct 2013 at 2:53 PM
  • Banks

Countrywide’s Hustle Program Only Sounded Bad

From the name on down to the “On-Fire February” contests to fund the most loans during the shortest month, maybe the Cadillac of mortgage lenders could have done a better job of branding. And it was all in good fun, Rebecca Mairone assures, and at no time were they just handing out mortgages willy-nilly. Read more »

June 29, 2009: Countrywide Chairman and CEO Angelo Mozilo utters greatest veiled threat ever when he tells CFC shareholders at their final meeting that Bank of America “will reap the benefits of what we have sowed.”

October 25, 2012: Analysts estimate the benefits of acquiring Countrywide have so far cost Bank of America $40+ billion in “write-downs, legal expenses, and settlements.”

October 8, 2013: Still reaping: Read more »

If you answered Bri-Moy, you’d be correct. Read more »