By Press TV
July 06, 2012 "Information Clearing House" -- The former Countrywide Financial Corp., whose subprime loans helped start the nation's foreclosure crisis, made hundreds of discount loans to buy influence with members of Congress, congressional staff, top government officials and executives of troubled mortgage giant Fannie Mae, according to a House report.
The report, obtained by The Associated Press, said that the discounts - from January 1996 to June 2008, were not only aimed at gaining influence for the company but to help mortgage giant Fannie Mae.
Countrywide's business depended largely on Fannie, which at the time was trying to fend off more government regulation but eventually had to come under government control.
Fannie was responsible for purchasing a large volume of Countrywide's subprime mortgages.
Countrywide was taken over by Bank of America in January 2008, relieving the financial services industry and regulators from the messy task of cleaning up the bankruptcy of a company that was servicing 9 million U.S. home loans worth $1.5 trillion at a time when the nation faced a widening credit crisis, massive foreclosures and an economic downturn.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee also named six current and former members of Congress who received discount loans, but all of their names had surfaced previously.
Documents and testimony obtained by the committee show the VIP loan program was a tool used by Countrywide to build goodwill with lawmakers and other individuals positioned to benefit the company," the report said. "In the years that led up to the 2007 housing market decline, Countrywide VIPs were positioned to affect dozens of pieces of legislation that would have reformed Fannie" and its rival Freddie Mac, the committee said.
Some of the discounts were ordered personally by former Countrywide chief executive Angelo Mozilo. Those recipients were known as "Friends of Angelo."
The Securities and Exchange Commission in October 2010 slapped Mozilo with a $22.5 million penalty to settle charges that he and two other former Countrywide executives misled investors as the subprime mortgage crisis began. Mozilo also was banned from ever again serving as an officer or director of a publicly traded company. Huffington Post
Among those who received loan discounts from Countrywide, the report said, were:
- Former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.
- Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D.
- Mary Jane Collipriest, who was communications director for former Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, then a member of the Banking Committee.
- Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
- Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., former chairman of the Oversight Committee.
- Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif.
- Top staff members of the House Financial Services Committee. (AP)