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Maybe his fault, maybe not: Mozilo to pay SEC $67.5 million to settle charges

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Former Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo will pay a record $22.5 million penalty to settle SEC charges that he and two other former Countrywide executives misled investors by over-rating the credit strength of borrowers of their subprime mortgages. Additionally Mozilo will pay $45 million in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains to settle the SEC’s disclosure violation and insider trading charges against him. The money will go to said investors who lost out in Mozilo-led investments. As part of the deal, Mozilo can never again serve as an officer or director of a publicly traded company in the United States, the SEC said Friday. The penalty is the largest ever by a senior executive. “Mozilo’s record penalty is the fitting outcome for a corporate executive who deliberately disregarded his duties to investors by concealing what he saw from inside the executive suite — a looming disaster in which Countrywide was buckling under the weight of increasing risky mortgage underwriting, mounting defaults and delinquencies, and a deteriorating business model,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement. Former Countrywide chief operating officer David Sambol agreed to a settlement in which he is liable for $5 million in disgorgement and a $520,000 penalty, and a three-year officer and director bar. Former chief financial officer Eric Sieracki agreed to pay a $130,000 penalty and a one-year bar from practicing before the Commission. The settlement was approved by United States District Judge John Walter for the Central District of California. The former executives neither admit nor deny the allegations against them, and won't have to as part of the deal. Write to Jacob Gaffney.

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