Atty. Gen. Brown Sues Countrywide For Mortgage Deception

By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

June 26, 2008

As Countrywide Financial Corp. shareholders voted Wednesday to ratify the company's sale, ending an era for the mortgage industry, California sued the No. 1 home lender in a broad condemnation of its business practices.

Stumbling emotionally over his words at a special shareholder meeting, Angelo Mozilo, the company's founder, chairman and chief executive, said he saw no future role for stand-alone mortgage lenders such as Countrywide, which thrived during the housing boom and had suffered badly during the bust.

Bank of America Corp., which expects to close its acquisition of Countrywide next week, "will reap the benefits of what we have sown over the past decades," Mozilo told employees filling an auditorium at Countrywide's Calabasas headquarters.

Less than an hour earlier, California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown had sent a harsh reminder that Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, the nation's largest retail bank, also would reap massive legal headaches from the deal.

Brown accused Mozilo and his company of causing thousands of foreclosures by deceptively marketing risky loans to borrowers who didn't understand that their monthly payments would one day "explode."

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