The central figure at one of enduring images of the financial crisis is potentially facing the latest in a series of attempts to hold him responsible for some of the events leading to the economic downturn.
U.S. attorneys in Los Angeles are preparing a civil lawsuit against former Countrywide Financial CEO and co-founder Angelo Mozilo, according to a report by Bloomberg.
The CEO reportedly earned $535 million between 1999 and 2008, according to compensation-research firm Equilar Inc. Mozilo further enriched himself in the $4 billion sale of Countrywide in 2008 after the company had fallen on hard times following a large volume of defaults.
This is not the first time Mozilo has come under fire for actions taken by Countrywide while he was at the helm. In October 2010, he agreed to pay $22.5 million in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) amid allegations of misleading Countrywide investors by reassuring them that the quality of Countrywide’s loan portfolio was not in danger. He also agreed to disgorge $45 million in stock gains due to alleged inflated prices.
As part of the 2010 settlement, the SEC permanently banned Mozilo from serving in the capacity of officer or director for a public traded company.
The relatively light penalty when compared to the amount of money that he earned both from the sale and his time running the financial institution has drawn criticism from both lawmakers and the general public.
Mozilo continues to be defiant, denying any culpability, saying in a recent deposition that that he had “no regrets” in the way that he managed Countrywide.
Ten unnamed former Countrywide executives may also be held accountable in the suit according to the report. Mozilo’s attorneys have contended that there is no basis for him to be targeted for his role in the financial crisis and that he is being unfairly singled out.
When contacted by DS News, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, declined to comment on the possible pending civil suit against Mozilo.