In the LA Times, E. Scott Reckard, who did a fine job covering the SoCal mortgage wheeler dealers, reports
Federal prosecutors have shelved a criminal investigation of Angelo R. Mozilo after determining that his actions in the mortgage meltdown - which led to $67.5-million settlement against him - did not amount to criminal wrongdoing.As the former chairman of Countrywide Financial Corp., Mozilo helped fuel the boom in risky subprime loans that led to the crippling of the banking industry and the near-collapse of the financial system.
... But the criminal investigation has wound down without indictments of Mozilo or others at his Calabasas company, according to people familiar with both the prosecution and the defense teams, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
As I wrote
in VDARE a couple of years ago, the government`s leaked case against Mozilo largely consisted of emails recording "Mozilo`s intermittent spasms of skepticism."
It seemed kind of bizarre to try to convict him based on the handful of times when he`d wake up and ask, "Why are we doing this?"
Most of the time, however, Mozilo seemed to be a true believer in the post-1992 conventional wisdom that the mortgage industry had left huge sums on the table by not lending more aggressively to Hispanics and blacks.
Reckard goes on:
"Sometimes the public thinks all you have to do is to indict someone and that`s it," one of the federal sources said. "But you have to be able to prove your case, and it can be worse losing a case than not bringing one at all."The 72-year-old Mozilo hung up the phone when contacted for comment at his home in the Lake Sherwood golf community of Ventura County.
So, Mozilo has to pay a $22 million fine for a civil case settled earlier, but gets to keep the rest of the $387 millionhe took home as compensation during the previous decade.
It looks like not one single corporate officer is going to do even a perp walk over subprime, much less hard time. It seems more and more amazing that only a couple of decades ago, Michael Milken did a few years.
I`m having a hard time seeing what else will serve as a deterrent. If you do the arithmetic based on Mozilo`s outcome , why wouldn`t it make financial sense to try to shoot the moon like he did? $387,000,000 minus $22,000,000 is $365,000,000. Without the risk of jail time, why wouldn`t a greedy guy take those odds?
Will Dodd-Frank regulate moon-shooters out of existence? Maybe, but that`s asking a lot of civil servants.