When Countrywide Financial’s Angelo Mozilo told a Congressional committee in 2007 that there was a lot of fraud in the subprime business, we thought at the time it might be a prophetic statement. The Securities and Exchange Commission apparently agrees, as this week it laid civil charges of securities fraud against the company’s former CEO. What we sometime ago dubbed as Mr. Mozilo’s miraculously timed stock sales, the SEC thinks could be insider trading.
In 2006, Mr. Mozilo was among America’s ten highest paid CEOs, with a paycheck that topped $142 million. Between 1999 and 2008, he pocketed some $400 million in total compensation. It will be interesting to see whether this was one of those cases where the compensation was fully justified–as Countrywide’s board always maintained during this period–and an example of aligning the interests of CEOs with those of investors, or whether it was, instead, nothing more than reward founded on sands of subprime fraud and another example of CEO pay being aligned with CEO greed.