The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Angelo Mozilo, former chief executive officer of Countrywide Financial Corp., with securities fraud and insider trading. The agency has also brought securities fraud charges against the lending company’s former chief operating officer and president David Sambol, and former chief financial officer, Eric Sieracki.
The SEC accuses the trio of misleading investors, saying they made excessively risky loans they knew mortgage holders would be unable to pay. The agency also accuses Mozilo (photo at right) of reaping nearly $140 million in profits by illegally selling Countrywide stock when he had “inside” information.
Naturally, there will be a formidable defense. People like these have access to the wiliest lawyers in the country, and they have the money to pay for a long court battle.
But even if they go to prison as a result of the mortgage mess, I suspect others will escape unscathed.
I keep thinking of the savings-and-loan scandal of the late 1980s, and I see so many similarities with the recent rape of the mortgage market and the plundering of the national treasury.
According to books written after the dust had settled (like the ones at left), the S&L rip-off was engineered by criminals, politicians and the CIA. I suspect that in the recent financial collapse, billions have been stolen once again. And I am afraid we may never know who masterminded the heist. From what little I know, it seems that the trail leads all the way to the top of the ladder. I can’t wait for some investigative reporter, with the time and resources needed for the job, to sort through the rubble and piece the real story together, as several writers have done with the S&L debacle.