“Report Details Countrywide’s Efforts to Benefit VIPs”
From the Hartford Courant:
Executives at Countrywide Financial, one of the biggest names of the housing boom, routinely violated internal company policies to provide below-market rates on home loans to the politically connected and powerful, according to a congressional report to be released Thursday.
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who is named in the report, has denied that he received any special deal from Countrywide. Last month he said that he would refinance the two mortgages he received through the company.
Loan documents show how far Countrywide went to give loans to VIPs through a special program known as “Friends of Angelo,” named after the company’s chief executive Angelo Mozilo, according to congressional investigators. Executives manually overrode the company’s computer software that routinely warned that certain additional fees would be necessary to accommodate below-market rates.
That was in addition to lengthy discussions on the merits of giving a special deal to a particular borrower, missives from Mozilo to employees telling them to give VIPs breaks and other activities.
Recipients of special loans included senators and other officials, prominent businessmen, congressional aides, celebrities and journalists, including Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson, Jackson’s daughter and others.
Beneficiaries of the VIP program were featured in accounts in Portfolio magazine and other publications last year that exposed the Countrywide initiative.
Countrywide, which handed out many of the loans that turned out to be toxic waste on the books of banks, faltered in 2007 at the onset of the financial crisis and was sold to Bank of America.
Bank of America said that it will cooperate fully with any official inquiry into this Countrywide program.
Most recipients of VIP loans have said in news accounts that they had no idea they were receiving a special deal. But the report says that Countrywide “clearly” indicated to borrowers they were getting special deals, usually by including business cards indicating that the loan came from a VIP unit.
But remember, people. Obamaco will call on YOU to sacrifice. FOR THE GREATER GOOD!
Robert Feinberg, a 12-year Countrywide employee who processed VIP loans, told investigators that it was standard practice to tell borrowers “your loan was specially priced by Angelo.”
I’m guessing this reporter for the Hartford Courant wasn’t a VIP. But I wonder how many on the JournoList were?
Just spitballing here. Wouldn’t want there to be an investigation or anything into potential conflicts of interest between the mainstream journalists sharing a media spin tank with Obama’s budget guy, Congressional Dems, sweatheart deals, and the astounding spin to the coverage of all this up until now.
— Not when there are more important things to do, like tell us what how Obama had the bestest most festive Shamrock Day at the White House ever!