Countrywide’s Mozilo still asserts innocence in mortgage crisis

According to regulators, Countrywide didn’t tell investors it was creating increasingly risky mortgages, while Angelo Mozilo expressed doubts to colleagues.

Bloomberg News

Angelo Mozilo cannot believe it.

Six years after he lost control of the largest mortgage lender in the U.S., and days after news that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles plans to sue him, the Countrywide Financial founder is baffled by a new effort to punish him, proud of past triumphs and incensed by criticism.

“You’ll have to ask those people, ‘What do you have against Mozilo, what did he do?’ ” he said in one of his few interviews since the firm’s downfall.

“Countrywide didn’t change. I didn’t change. The world changed.”

Interviews with Mozilo, 75, and three friends show what retirement looks like for a chief executive linked to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Remaining out of public view like Lehman Brothers’ Richard Fuld or Jimmy Cayne of Bear Stearns, Mozilo has submitted plans for Old West-style offices in California, taught students in Italy about finance, invested in a building in the Arizona desert that houses a Taco Bell and written about his life so that his grandchildren will “know the truth.”

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