Following the SEC’s securities fraud wrist slap of former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo to the tune of $67.5 million civil fine (only $22.5 million was paid by Mozilo, who received $521.5 million in compensation from 2000 to 2008) for his prominent role in the mortgage meltdown, federal prosecutors decided last month to drop criminal charges against Mozilo without so much as an indictment.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys cited the higher burden of proof in criminal cases, the number of players involved, and the overall complexity of the case as reasons for dropping the charges. One said, “it can be worse losing a case than not bringing one at all.” Instead of hitting the corporate titans, like Angelo Mozilo and Richard Fuld, the Justice Department is focusing more on the “low-hanging fruit,” such as mortgage brokers, appraisers, loan officers, and borrowers who “directly defrauded a bank for individual gain.”
The prosecutors dropped the case notwithstanding documented communications from Mozilo describing his own company’s loan products as “toxic” and “poisonous.” Other mega-lending executives admitted to not recognizing the financial cataclysm on the horizon because they were “having too much fun” and “getting loaded on Miller Lite.”
As highlighted in the Oscar award winning Documentary “Inside Job,” it appears absolutely clear now that the Department of Justice and the Obama administration are content to absolve all corporate malfeasors of any criminal culpability, or really any responsibility at all, for recklessly driving their banks and firms into near bankruptcy.
If Angelo Mozilo is not to be indicted for criminal fraud, then all of the Wall Street leadership that recklessly crashed the economy must be breathing easier, celebrating their ill-gotten record gains.
written by andré douglas pond cummings