Countrywide exec sells mansion as losses mount to $40 billion -- or more

For sale sign with sky in background

Remember Angelo Mozilo?

He’s the former chairman and chief executive officer of Countrywide Financial, the California-based lender that became a leader in reckless subprime mortgages that contributed so much to the financial crisis and recession.

The Los Angeles Times says Mozilo is selling his 6,238-square-foot house in Thousand Oaks for $2.9 million. According to the Times:

The Georgian Colonial-style two-story sits on a half-acre above the second fairway at the Sherwood Country Club. The 6,238-square-foot home features a cherry-finished library-office, five bedrooms, six bathrooms and an oversized four-car garage.

The master suite includes a sitting area, a balcony, two walk-in closets with built-in cabinets, dual sinks, a mirrored dressing area, a spa tub, a steam shower, a bidet and marble floors. An infinity pool, spa, lawn and a built-in barbecue complete the grounds.

Public records show the Mozilos bought the Ventura County property in 2000 but do not disclose the purchase price. The custom home was built in 1999.

This just reminds me that Mozilo has been living on a swank golf course -- not keeping Bernie Madoff company in jail -- since helping to crash the economy. (He was one of Time magazines' "25 to Blame for the Financial Crisis.")

In late 2010, Mozilo agreed to pay a $22.5-million fine and repay $45 million in what the government said were ill-gotten gains to former Countrywide shareholders to settle a civil suit by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But a few months later, federal prosecutors dropped their investigation of Mozilo, determining that whatever he might have done, they couldn’t prove he had broken any laws.

Which is one of the most remarkable things about the entire financial crisis.

Virtually no one responsible for it has gone to jail. Or even been forced to defend their actions in court. No matter how big the losses. How morally abhorrent the actions. Or how great the suffering caused.

And the Wall Street Journal just made it clear that Mozilo’s management of Countrywide has resulted in far greater financial losses than Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

In a Saturday story, unnamed sources at Bank of America said the bank will wind up losing more than $40 billion on its disastrous purchase of Countrywide.

That estimate includes the $2.5 billion it paid for the reckless California lender and $34.5 billion that’s already been spent to cover losses on hundreds of thousands of bad loans and to reimburse investors who were misled into buying Countrywide mortgages they thought were safe.

Madoff’s victims lost $17.3 billion, and the trustee recovering funds on behalf of his victims has been able to recover about $11 billion for them.

In one of the most telling facts the Journal reveals, it says Bank of America had 5,000 employees processing bad mortgages when it bought Countrywide in 2008.

Now it has 50,000 employees, filling 78 football fields worth of office space, trying to clean up the Countrywide mess (and some of its own stupid lending, too).

The Times doesn’t say where Mozilo will be living. But it notes that he and his wife "hold other Southern California properties in trust in Riverside and Santa Barbara counties."

So he didn’t join Madoff in jail, and I’m sure he won’t be joining any of Countrywide’s evicted customers on the street.

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