Staff Report | How Countrywide Used its VIP Loan Program To Influence Washington Policymakers

I. Executive Summary

Bank of America (the Bank) produced more than 120,000 pages of documents in response to the subpoenas issued by Committee Chairmen Darrell Issa and Edolphus Towns. The documents produced by the Bank shed additional light on the scope and purpose of Countrywide’s VIP program, particularly as it related to the company’s strategic partnership with Fannie Mae.

In 1999, Countrywide reached an exclusive agreement to sell Fannie Mae billions of dollars in mortgages at a discounted rate. The agreement led to a period of codependence and mutual growth. Countrywide gave preferential treatment to Fannie Mae executives and employees. Loans being financed for Fannie Mae employees through an Employee Assistance Program were often transferred to Countrywide’s VIP unit for processing.

Between January 1996 and June 2008, Countrywide’s VIP loan unit made hundreds of loans to current and former Members of Congress, congressional staff, highranking government officials, and executives and employees of Fannie Mae, including Chairmen James “Jim” Johnson, Franklin Raines, and Daniel Mudd. VIPs who worked at Fannie Mae enjoyed expedited loan processing and pricing discounts. Countrywide also waived company guidelines for Fannie Mae’s senior executives to a greater extent than it did for “regular” VIPs.

Fannie Mae and Countrywide lobbied against government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) reform legislation that would have diminished Fannie Mae’s ability to acquire and hold subprime mortgages originated by Countrywide. Countrywide also lobbied against predatory lending bills. Documents obtained by the Committee show that several Members of Congress and congressional staff positioned to affect the legislation received VIP loans. In fact, Countrywide lobbyists – and CEO Angelo Mozilo himself – referred several Members and staff from the Senate Committee on Banking and the House Committee on Financial Services to the VIP unit. Those are the committees of primary jurisdiction for consideration of legislation related to the mortgage industry and the GSEs.

Countrywide’s VIP unit processed loans for key Senators and Senate staff who could be helpful when legislation that affected the company was drafted or up for a vote. Countrywide gave VIP loans to former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd; Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad; and Mary Jane Collipriest, Communications Director for former Senator Robert Bennett, who served on the Banking Committee. Dodd referred Collipriest to the VIP unit.

Countrywide also forged relationships with Members and staff of the U.S. House of Representatives. The VIP unit processed loans for Congressmen Howard “Buck” McKeon; Pete Sessions; Edolphus Towns; and Elton Gallegly.

Documents show Countrywide enrolled House Financial Services Committee Staff Director Joseph Ventrone and General Counsel Clinton Jones in the VIP loan program. Jones was a trusted ally of Fannie Mae during GSE reform deliberations. Documents also show that in early 2005, Countrywide gave a discounted loan to a staffer in the office of Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, who has served on the Financial Services Committee since 2001. Former Rep. Tom Campbell received a VIP loan in 1997. Fannie Mae’s targeted lobbying campaign supplemented Countrywide’s outreach to Committee Members and staff. The GSE assigned as many as 70 lobbyists to the Financial Services Committee while it considered GSE reform legislation in 2000 – 2005. During the 108th Congress, four GSE reform bills were introduced in the House. None made it out of the Financial Services Committee.

Countrywide also had favorable relationships with key decision makers in the Executive Branch. Two former Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development received VIP loans – Alphonso Jackson and Henry Cisneros. The VIP unit processed Cisneros’s loan after he joined the company’s Board of Directors. Jim Johnson referred former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala to the VIP unit.

The documents produced by the Bank show that VIP borrowers received paperwork from Countrywide that clearly identified the VIP unit as the point of contact. The conspicuous markings on documents provided to VIP borrowers made it clear that Countrywide’s VIP unit was processing their loans. It was also the practice of staff in the VIP unit to identify themselves as such on the phone.

Full report below…

~

4closureFraud.org

~

How Countrywide Used its VIP Loan Program To Influence Washington Policymakers

Comments
7 Responses to “Staff Report | How Countrywide Used its VIP Loan Program To Influence Washington Policymakers”
  1. Charles Fetters says:

    Let’s keep in mind that it was Countrywide Ceo Angelo Mozilo, along with Paul Mullings senior vice President of Freddie and Fannie that formed MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registry Service). They then got the banks to sign on as members. Along with Stewart Title company,and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.
    Now Countrywide is operating as “Penny Mac”, same mafia, just a new store front operation. Does the crime never stop? All of Angelo’s former employees are operating the new Penny Mac store.
    I wonder will Bank of America now start dumping the bad loan mods into Penny Mac?

  2. Jason Werner says:

    Disgusting.

    Yeah, it’s nice this is being exposed, but it’s truly disgusting.

  3. Sal says:

    Folks, this is not about gifts or special VIP loans. Its about BRIBERY. However, and most importantly, its about ACCEPTING BRIBES. Our govt employees are ACCEPTING BRIBES. We foolishly let the narrative take another track, so we get confused as to what is the reality. It is a Federal Crime to accept bribes, PERIOD, worse then the Federal Crime of offering bribes IMHO. Now, what to we do when those who accepted bribes are employed by us to prosecute themselves?

  4. Richard says:

    This is racketeering at it’s height! If the “boys” from the Mafia did this , they’d be facing thiry years in prison! This demonstrates that the “banksters” have bought the decision-makers in Congress! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Bribery, unlawful compensation, conspiracy to commit racketeering…the list goes on. The citizens of this country need to initiate a second revolution by all means necessary in the courts. The problem is…most Judges are uneducated in these matters, or get most of their campaogn contributions from the “banksters”.

  5. talktotennessee says:

    Lets do a head count here to see where things stand? How many Democrats and how many Republicans accepted the VIP favored treatment! Stir a little media fire?

  6. talktotennessee says:

    Keep friends close and your enemies (Congressmen) closer!
    Many answers relate to the fact Countrywide’s VIP program creators believed the Congressmen and staff to be “good risks” who would repay loans, deserving low rates, preferential treatment in financing, refinancing. Probably to include “money out” with appraisal enhancement to boot. Nothing is said about compromising congressional influence on matters related to banking regulation in a position of power to influence for such decisions.
    This was always considered by most legal minds to be bribery or conspiracy to influence the outcome of legislation using ones critical position as a springboard. A little more than giving the Congressman a ham for Christmas don’t you think?
    Clearly fraud, conspiracy to defraud!. They explain it so simply as “good risks” deserving expeditious handling of their favorable loans. Lobbyists and banking is still buying favor today, pandering to Congress, like Jamie Dimon did recently. History repeats?
    Has anything changed today in our Congress?

    • talktotennessee says:

      How does that famous quote go about shirking responsibility? “When good people do nothing. . . . . ”
      What we need are term limits and strict lobbying-perks regulations ON CONGRESS!

Leave a Reply