Views on the integrity of global capital markets
21 October 2010

Bank of America Shareholders and the Mozilo Gorilla

Did you catch the reports on U.S. SEC settlements with former Countrywide chief Angelo Mozilo? It was the single biggest regulatory recovery from an individual ever, according to reports. A close examination of these reports reveals two things. As we have come to expect, these record settlements come with no admission of wrongdoing on anyone’s part. The dog ate my homework. Second and more concerning, it is Bank of America (BAC) that is actually paying a substantial portion of Mozilo’s penalty. Bank of America agreed to indemnify Countrywide executives when it purchased Countrywide assets, meaning BAC (i.e. its shareholders) would cover certain claims/penalties assessed against such executives. These are the same shareholders that got stuck with Countrywide’s black book of mortgage assets. The very same shareholders who got thumped as the financial crisis accelerated due in large part to bogus mortgage practices by firms such as Countrywide. Now they get the dubious honor of paying big penalties on behalf of the key Countrywide players. We can’t say wrongdoers because there apparently aren’t any. I will bet BAC shareholders feel differently.

About the Author(s)
Kurt Schacht, JD, CFA

Kurt Schacht, JD, CFA, is managing director of the Standards and Financial Market Integrity division at CFA Institute, where he oversees all advocacy efforts and the development, maintenance, and promotion of the highest ethical standards of practice for the global investment management industry.

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