In a letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency – the government agency that regulates Fannie Mae and a smaller competitor, Freddie Mac – Issa said Countrywide’s 153 loans to 37 Fannie employees were part of a attempt to vastly expand business with Fannie to the detriment of Freddie. Though government-chartered institutions, both Fannie and Freddie were owned by private stockholders.
“In 1999, Countrywide reached an exclusive agreement to sell Fannie Mae billions of dollars in mortgages at a discounted rate,” Issa said in the letter.
Records compiled by a trade publication, Inside Mortgage Finance, show Fannie rapidly expanding its purchases of Countrywide mortgages and a decline in sales of them to Freddie.
In 1998, Countrywide sold $25.6 billion in loans to Fannie and $17.7 billion to Freddie. By 1999, the figures were $30.8 billion to $11.2 billion in Fannie’s favor. By 2004, the spread was much wider: $67.7 billion in Countrywide mortgages sold to Fannie Mae compared with $2.9 billion in mortgages sold to Freddie Mac.
Also among the subpoenaed documents was a May 2001 “confidential and proprietary” e-mail from a Countrywide official to other company officials discussing the sensitivity of the discounted VIP mortgage loan to Daniel Mudd, then Fannie’s vice chairman and chief operating officer. He later became chief executive.
“Make sure the branch and RVP understand the sensitivity of this deal,” the e-mail said. “We already are taking a loss, it would be horrible to add a service complaint on top and lose any benefit we generate.” The meaning of RVP is unclear.
Taxpayers lost out. They’ve kicked in $84 billion so far for Fannie Mae’s bad decisions. But for the well-paid executives, things turned out okay.
Documents provided to Congress under subpoena show Jim Johnson, who made $21 million as Fannie Mae CEO, took $10 million dollars in VIP Countrywide loans. Other Fannie Mae executives who got VIP loans from Countrywide include: then-Vice Chair Jamie Gorelick, who earned $26 million over four years at Fannie Mae and now represents BP. And former CEO Franklin Raines who earned $90 million dollars in his five years at Fannie Mae. The amounts of their loans aren’t known.
Read Rep. Issa’s Letter Below